16 Dogs & Cats An Hour Abandoned In Spain

Really good article over on the THINKSpain site reporting that in Spain 16 cats and dogs an hour are abandoned. The article (which you can read below in full) gives a good overview of the situation in Spain, with an interesting reference to the 1992 law (and the lack of a proposed law) and provides a balanced view on Spain’s attitude to animals in general.

Well worth a read ……

An average of 16 dogs and cats per hour were dumped on the street last year, according to the animal protection foundation Affinity – a tragic statistic which highlights the pressing need to educate the public on sterilising and neutering pets and on putting measures in place for owners who suddenly find themselves without enough money coming in to provide food and veterinary care.

The total number of pets dumped last year comes in at 140,191 – albeit this is lower than in 2013, when 141,835 were abandoned.

Happily for many, they were found in time and taken in by shelters or members of the public, cared for and re-homed, or kept by those who picked them up from the street.

The rate of abandonment of pets is approximately 2.3 dogs per 1,000 inhabitants, and seven cats per 10,000 – although in reality it is higher than this because not every resident in Spain has animals.

Animal shelters say it is not true that more pets are dumped during summer because of holidays, since the number of dogs and cats rescued is roughly the same every month.

Last year, the main reasons for animals being dumped on the street are financial problems in 16% of cases, the dog’s or cat’s behaviour in 12%, loss of interest in the animal in just over 9% of cases, and the same figure with hunting hounds because of the season having finished or the hounds being too old, lame or slow to ‘serve their purpose’.

The second-most common reason – in 13.5% of cases – is where entire litters of puppies or kittens are abandoned.

Whilst sterilising is de rigueur in the UK and compulsory by law in Germany, it is less common in southern Europe – often because of old wives’ tales.

Many owners believe every female cat or dog should have at least one litter to ensure they will be stronger, sleeker and healthier in the future, or to prevent gynaecological problems.

This is not the case, as cats’ and dogs’ health and general condition are totally unrelated to pregnancy, and not being sterilised actually increases the risk of harmful gynaecological issues.

Infected reproductive organs which can cause extreme pain and even fatal blood poisoning if left untreated are likely, and the result is that the animal has to be sterilised anyway to cure her.

Another common myth is that if a dog or cat is sterilised or neutered, he or she will become fat and lazy.

This is not true either, vets say, since energy levels remain the same whether or not an animal has been ‘done’ and their body weight depends largely on feeding and exercise, as well as his or her natural build.

Some owners fear spaying or neutering will leave the animal open to infections, especially in the case of male dogs and cats.

Again, the opposite is true – male animals are more likely to fight with each other if they are not neutered, leading to cuts and scratches and the possible spread of leukaemia and other illnesses which street cats are not vaccinated against, and female cats will suffer infections and unwanted pregnancies.

Cats and dogs who have litters before they are fully grown, even though they are sexually mature, suffer a great deal of strain as a result.

Sterilising and neutering is always advisable unless the cat or dog is a pedigree used for commercial breeding.

Adoptions of dogs have fallen in the last year by around 2%, although more cats are being given homes – around 3% more on average – possibly because they are cheaper to keep at a time when household income is much lower, and they are also low-maintenance, often only needing daily visits for feeding when the owners are away rather than having to go into expensive boarding kennels as dogs require if their family is on holiday.

Spain was due to pass a new law on animal protection which would include, among other articles, a ban on shelters putting healthy dogs and cats to sleep just because they could not find homes for them.

But a law in place since 1992 means every town and village in Spain is required to have an animal shelter in receipt of council funding so that any strays can be taken in by them.

Dogs found on the street should always be reported officially to the police and taken to the nearest shelter, as they should be tagged, legally.

Despite the high abandonment rate reported, Spain is – in contrast to popular urban myths – an animal-loving nation, and vets tend to charge very low fees to encourage owners to see help for their pets when they are ill and keep their vaccinations up to date.

Most vets in Spain condemn those in countries where prohibitive fees are charged for animal healthcare, saying this discourages owners from giving their pets proper care.

And recent surveys should between eight and nine in 10 Spaniards are against bull-fighting or any other spectacle which could potentially be cruel to animals, and want to see them banned. Source THINKSpain

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