• Spain's news in English

Animal lovers fight 'cruel' put-down rule for strays

The Local · 4 Jul 2014, 15:21

Published: 04 Jul 2014 15:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The animal protection organization El Refugio has launched a petition which, it believes, will trigger a debate in the Madrid legislative assembly to change the law in the region, something that Catalonia has already done.

"Six hundred metric tons of dogs have been put down in the past 10 years in Madrid alone," El Refugio president Nacho Paunero told The Local, adding that the money saved from not paying dog and cat pounds to carry out these operations would better be employed on policies aimed at preventing the abandonment of animals.

"Since 1996 we have been practising a zero-sacrifice policy. It is our essence; it’s why we started," Paunero says of El Refugio, the animal shelter at the heart of the association he presides and which is based in the north of the Madrid region.

Under current national law, abandoned pets can be disposed of after ten days of captivity, with all regions except Catalonia adhering to this timescale with small local variations.

If Paunero’s campaign is successful in collecting 50,000 signatures in support of a “zero sacrifice” rule in Madrid, the regional assembly will be forced to debate it as a Popular Legislative Initiative.

Paunero is confident that the petition will gain sufficient weight before the August 15th deadline for the procedure, and says that his association’s aim is to “first change the law in Madrid, and then in the rest of Spain”.

The Socialist Party, United Left and the UPyD centrist formation are all behind the initiative, but the conservative Popular Party (PP), which governs the Madrid region with a majority, has yet to indicate its position on such a change.

"We believe that the PP would not oppose something like this," says Paunero, who adds that it was "fantastic" that PP Madrid Mayor Ana Botella had signed the petition at the capital’s Book Fair event last month.

Story continues below…

The experience of Catalonia, Paunero claims, shows that a zero-sacrifice policy can work to actually reduce the number of stray animals if it is accompanied by other measures. The fact that the region stopped strays being put down led to active steps to discourage the abandonment of pets, such as banning the display of puppies in shop windows and sterilization campaigns. "Investing in sterilization is investing in an absence of abandoned animals," he argues.

On a national level, the UPyD has petitioned Spain’s PP-dominated Congress to improve its animal protection legislation and reduce the rate of abandonment. In parliament earlier this year party leader Rosa Díez cited a figure from the Madrid Federation of Animal Shelters which put the number of abandoned pets at 300,000 a year, the worst in the European Union.

"That means an animal being abandoned in Spain every two minutes. These numbers cannot be justified as a consequence of the economic crisis, given that other badly hit countries do not have such high figures," Díez said before lawmakers.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available