When in June 2013 we received a call from Los Caballos Luna, horse rescue centre, denouncing the bad state that a group of 40 equines were in an illegal farm in Callosa de Segura, Alicante, we couldn't have ever imagined that it would take us more than 7 months to take them out of there and bring the owner to justice.
Emaciated donkeys and horses tied up with short chains 24 hours a day, with no access to water and fed with rotten vegetables when they were lucky, very overgrown hooves and terrible hygienic conditions is what we found when we first checked the farm.
We stayed there for 3 days, time when we could rescue 9 donkeys, 2 of them had to be immediately put to sleep and another one died the day after because of the poor health conditions he had. We also also put a report in court denouncing the situation and asked for an urgent seizure order to be able to give the animals the veterinary treatment they needed as well as proper feeding, due to the high risk of dead they were under.
Unfortunately, the judge didn't think it was so important for the animals to take them out of there, and we didn't had any news about the case until last December, when we knew that the case had been closed because the judge didn't see any indication of crime. Despite the 2 reports that the animal police had made to court in 2012 and 2013 and an order from the Agricultural Services forbidding the owner to keep on buying and selling and to call a vet immediately to give attention to the animals due to the serious health problems that they found.
After getting this bad news, we immediately contacted a lawyer specialist in animal welfare in Spain, who required us all documents and pictures of the case and started working on the appeal that was made in February, as well as a petition for an urgent seizure order to be able to rescue all the animals in the farm.
In the meantime, our welfare team contacted several horse organizations that could take care of the horses in case we were allowed to take them out of there, Easy Horse Rescue Centre offered to take all the horses to their facilities in Los Rojales, Alicante, a total of 14.
Intergroup for animals from the European parliament wrote one letter to the judge in charge of the case and to the director of the Agricultural Services of Alicante, to transmit the concerns of European citizens about this case.
We also started a campaign in Change.org directed to the director of Agricultural Services in Alicante, to get signatures to immediately get the illegal farm closed.
Finally, on the 6th March 2014, we received an order from court No. 2 in Orihuela, Alicante to rescue all the animals and for the farm to be closed with matter of urgency. In that same evening ERB team travelled to Callosa de Segura and arranged the transport to bring the donkeys and mules to our refuge in Málaga.
On 7th March, after signing the order in Court, we met Guardia Civil, Seprona (animal police) and a vet surgeon at 12 to go with our truck to the illegal farm and proceed with the court order.
It was a very long day, full of tension and conflict, starting by the owner, who of course didn't want to give his animals, and was almost taken arrested to the Guardia Civil office, he threatened and insulted Verónica, Country Manager, several times, as well as El Refugio del Burrito. After we had loaded the 14horses, 5 donkeys and 2 mules, Seprona was due to write an official movement order, which they denied to do, despite of the court order, and so did the official vet from the agricultural services, that didn’t want to allow us to travel to Málaga.
We had to bring the donkeys and mules to Easy Horse Centre Refuge while we waited for some cooperation from authorities. Finally Guardia Civil from Almoradí, nearest office to the refuge, did the transport document that allowed us to travel in a legal way and we could start our way to our refuge in Málaga at 1 am. Arriving safely at 7 am. Donkeys and mules were immediately provided with veterinary care, and of course water and proper food. All of them present poor body condition, several skin problems caused by fungus and external parasites, and serious problems in the hooves that will need farrier and veterinary care for a long time.
The 14 horses are also receiving vet care and proper food and water at Easy Horse Rescue Centre.
It is great news that we have been able to rescue them and our welfare team is very happy about it, but it is just unacceptable that it has taken us 7 months to do it, with no collaboration with authorities at all until the very last moment. We have done the work that the Agricultural Services should have done since the very moment they knew about the terrible conditions that these animals were living. But nevertheless, they hadn't done anything for more than 3 years and we think they are as guilty of animal mistreatment as the owner.
We wonder how many animals have died in pain during all this time, and during this long 7 months that we have been fighting to get them out of there. Many could have been saved if authorities had done the work they are entitled to.
Helping animals in Spain is yet a really difficult work to do, being the main problems the lack of awareness of society in general which extends to authorities and the unclear and diffuse existing animal welfare laws.
We would like to thank all supports for their help, that makes possible that we succeed in cases like this and that we can save animals from the terrible suffering they are submitted by some human beings; all people that signed the online petition to close the illegal farm, that has risen great awareness of the case, one of our Spain supporters, which made Intergroup for animals aware of this terrible case, Intergroup for animals, which wrote the letters that we believe have made possible to give a step forward with this case, our veterinary surgeons that very professionally have taken care of the animals, Concordia Marquez from CYD Santamaria for her constant support and advice, Transport Company for his absolute loyalty to El Refugio and professionalism, Guardia Civil from Almoradí, Guardia Civil from Callosa de Segura for their collaboration and support to our welfareteam, and all journalist that so quickly expanded the good news. Last thankful words for the Head of Operations in Continental Europe, Andrew Judge and Care and Welfare Director, Andy Foxcroft for their constant support to our welfare team with this case.