THE Guardia Civil have detained or sentenced up to 115 people for maltreatment of domestic animals in the first six months of this year.
Out of the 158 cases reported, 111 have already been arrested or sentenced for the atrocities. Seprona (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza), the wildlife division of the Guardia Civil, arrested or detained 63 of the cases in the six months between January and July of 2014. To date there over 7,300 reported crimes denounced to the police.
In September the Guardia Civil reported an upsetting discovery at a farm in EL Molar, Madrid, where they found nine decomposing horses and another 18 who were barely alive, suffering from malnutrition and chronic dehydration.
An undercover operation by Seprona at the start of the year – named ARGO – also exposed a gang from Eastern Europe who were transporting small domestic animals illegally from Slovenia and selling them to pet shops in Spain and Portugal. Sixteen people were arrested along with false passports, false travel documents and false vet certificates.
Data released by the Guardia Civil reported that specialists from Seprona searched over 2,200 establishments where pets were sold, and inspected over 31,000 animals of varying types.
Animal cruelty has increased dramatically since the economic crisis of 2008. Horse owners can no longer afford to keep up with stabling bills and vets bills and dog owners are abandoning the animals in far- away places, hoping that someone might adopt them.
In recent years, equine owners are selling their beloved horses to the slaughter houses rather than other establishments or horse markets due to a higher price paid for the animal. Unlike some animals that are bred for consumption, horse meat has no age restriction.
The Guardia Civil has published a list of guidelines on their website (guardiacivil.es) for anyone thinking of buying a domestic pet, with advice on detecting if an animal has illegally been imported into Spain.