The former president of the Torremolinos animal welfare association, Parque Animal, Carmen Marín, has been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for cruelty to animals, falsification of documents and unqualified practice.
The sentence, handed down by a Malaga court this week following the trial in November and December, could be appealed in the provincial court.
Both Marín and her assistant, Felipe Barco, were given one year in prison, the maximum sentence allowed under Spanish law for animal cruelty. The remainder of Marín's sentence, a further two years and nine months, was handed down for falsifying documents.
During sentencing, the judge took the landmark step to recommend a change to the criminal code to raise the sentence by "one or two degrees" in severe cases. "It would allow for a punishment that is more proportionate to the crime in cases such as this one," he concluded.
Marín was accused by the public prosecution department of sacrificing hundreds of dogs and cats "in authentic extermination sessions" when euthanasia products were administered in insufficient doses, causing a "slow and painful death" for the animals, despite running a 'zero sacrifice' policy for several years.
The judge also ruled that the lists of sacrificed animals, sent to Torremolinos town hall which would foot the bill, had been "manipulated" to include the participation of vets "who were never involved".
In response to this, Torremolinos town hall announced that an investigation would be launched into the conduct of the council, then run by the PP, which "didn't assist in any way" in the investigation which started in 2010 and allowed the documentation to be returned to Marín and then altered, according to officers from the Guardia Civil's nature protection unit, Seprona.
Dogs frozen alive
The animal killings were carried out for "financial gain", freeing up space for new animals and charging for their care, concluded the sentence.
Officers from Seprona, had also told the court that during their investigation they had discovered "dogs frozen alive". This would prove to be the key to the investigation.
During the trial, Marín, who has also been sentenced to pay a total of 19,800 euros for unqualified practice, moral damage and falsification of documents, said she had a "phobia" of injections and that the number of animals sacrificed was 283 in three years. Nevertheless the Association of Veterinary Surgeons estimated that the figure was more like 2,800.
Following the verdict, Marín announced on Wednesday that she would be appealing, calling the decision an "injustice", insisting that she was innocent on all charges.