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ANIMAL RIGHTS

Animal-loving Spaniards launch campaign to save pet cow from slaughter

Her name is Margarita and she loves cuddles.

Animal-loving Spaniards launch campaign to save pet cow from slaughter
Margarita, the pet cow of Tortosa. Photo: El Hogar ProVegan

A four-year-old cow that has won the hearts of residents in Tortosa, in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, has become a cause-celebre after she was “sentenced to death” by agriculture authorities because she didn’t have the right paperwork.

Taken away from her mother at just a few days old, she would have been sent to slaughter but instead was given as a gift by the farmer to a family in Tortosa, who reared her by hand.

Living alone in a field at the edge of the town over the last four years, she made friends with residents, who stopped by to feed her titbits and give her a stroke, or even a cuddle.

She proved particularly popular with children in the town with whom she was very gentle.

But last week, it emerged that her owners had not registered her with the agricultural authorities – a measure demanded under EU directives in order to trace all livestock through the food chain.

Catalan regional agriculture authorities claim they have no choice but to sacrifice the animal, even though she is not intended for meat but to live out her life as a family pet.

The owner was issued with an order to send her to the slaughterhouse and pay a steep fine for failure to meet conditions that are designed to prevent bovine health issues such as mad cow disease.

Animal rights group, Hogar ProVegan, took up her cause and launched a change.org petition calling for authorities not to kill Margarita and instead allow her to live out her days in an animal sanctuary.

“She’s an orphaned baby cow who has never harmed anyone or anything, and she has a death sentence because the authorities apply the law as if she belonged to a livestock farm,” the group say in their petition.

The petition has already garnered more than 175,000 signatures ahead of the deadline for slaughter on Friday.

Margarita is a from a breed of bovine used in bullfighting, an activity banned in the region of Catalonia since January 1, 2012.

Will she get a reprieve? 

READ MORE: Spanish region bans bull killing at traditional festivals 

ANIMAL CRUELTY

‘Gratuitous cruelty’: Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab

Spanish police and prosecutors said Monday they were investigating an animal testing lab after undercover footage showed staff there tossing around, smacking and taunting dogs, pigs and other animals.

'Gratuitous cruelty': Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab
Handout: Cruelty Free International

“We were dismayed to see the images,” the head of the government’s directorate-general for animal protection, Sergio Garcia Torres, told AFP.

“It is a blatant case of animal abuse.”

Footage published Thursday by Cruelty Free International shows appears to show animals at the Vivotecnia animal testing facility being cut into apparently without having received anaesthetics.

Staff were also filmed swinging dogs and rats around and in one clip someone is drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to a table.

The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility, which is on the outskirts of Madrid, between 2018 and 2020.

“There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

“It is also unlawful.”

Police and public prosecutors said Monday they had opened separate investigations into Vivotecnia, which carries out experiments on animals for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday and its web site was down for maintenance.

In a statement cited by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images. But, he added, they did not “demonstrate the day-to-day reality at Vivotecnia”.

Following the outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government on Sunday temporarily halted activity at the animal testing facility.

Animal rights political party PACMA has filed a lawsuit against the managers of the company and urged the government to step up its supervision of animal testing.

“It’s a very opaque world and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.

The Vivotecnia laboratory animals were examined by veterinarians and are being moved to other facilities.

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