At CYD Santa Maria Association, helpers work hard to promote understanding of acceptable treatment of animals according the law of Spain, and to prosecute owners who fail to comply. In this respect, they operate not unlike the RSPCA, but without the same levels of funding.
While competing in equestrian events, Concordia Márquez, the founder of CYD, noticed abandoned and mistreated horses, and so ten years ago acquired land just outside Alhaurín el Grande to develop as a sanctuary for horses in need of rescue. The area has been extensively developed to ensure that residents are comfortable and properly cared for. Six years ago, the owners applied for charitable status, and have been striving ever since for recognition and support.
Apart from the important work of rescuing horses, the association focuses on informing and educating the public about cruelty issues, and prosecuting offenders. Reports of cruelty are received via the police, the nature protection agency and the town halls. For private citizens with serious concerns, a form is available on the website, and photos should be sent where available.
The horses, even those which have horrific injuries and will never be ‘useful’ again, seem happy, extremely well cared for, and have a good quality of life. Amazingly, most of the 30 or so horses currently stabled at the centre seem forgiving, even though many have suffered terribly as a result of human ignorance and stupidity.
Concordia’s lawyer husband gives up his free time to progress prosecutions for CYD. Those that reach court are invariably successful. The problem, other than the need for funding, is the definition of horses as livestock rather than domestic animals under Spanish law. Applications for prosecution have to be submitted via a different route than for domestic animals, which can be a very slow process, and CYD is launching a petition aimed at having horses moved to the domestic animal category.
CYN continues to seek new volunteers and support for their on going work. Fundraising functions are organised periodically and those who wish to visit the sanctuary should contact staff in advance.