When bureaucracy encourages abandonment
In 2006, the agricultural department of the Andalucían Government introduced new regulations that ordered the identification, possession and farming of equines to be recorded in a register known as 'El Registro de las Explotaciones Ganaderas Equinas' (Equine Farm Register). These new regulations require microchip identification and a 'Tarjeta Sanitaria' (Health Registration Card) for every single mule, donkey and horse within Andalucía, which also includes all stables where the equines are kept to be recorded in the new register (SIGGAN). These new rules and regulations allow a better control of sanitary and welfare conditions of the animals registered. The Andalucían government allowed existing equine owners one year to adapt to the new law of 2006.
The problem arises when there are still owners that have not registered their animals and the transition period has finished. This means that the owners may be fined by the government of Andalucía for the administrative offence. There is no administrative procedure for which these owners are able to re-home these animals at an animal refuge, for example El Refugio Del Burrito (for donkeys and mules) and CYD Santa Maria (for horses), without avoiding this fine and the paperwork; this financial punishment causes many of the owners to abandon their animals instead of following the administrative procedures. For this reason we find ourselves with a series of problems when trying to organize the correct documentation for the transportation of donkeys and mules to our sanctuary and due to this we are putting ourselves at risk of fines etc if, whist working towards the welfare of animals, we decide to move an animal without the correct paperwork. This summer we found ourselves with many different cases of abandonment and thanks to Seprona (the Spanish RSPCA), official veterinary surgeons and their interest in the welfare of donkeys and mules, we were able to continue with the rescue of the animals.
We hope that, in the future, the Andalucían Government will make things a bit easier so that we can rescue animals without it being a mission impossible.