The ARCH horse rescue centre in Alhaurín el Grande has recently celebrated its 14th anniversary, and although it has become well established in the province, and bearing in mind that new animal legislation has recently been passed, the charity is still struggling to cope with the amount of animals it is receiving.
The founder and president of the centre, Jill Newman-Rogers, first came horse riding in Andalucía in 1962, although at that time she was unaware that she would set up a horse rescue centre in the region nearly 50 years later.
ARCH was founded in 2009 by Jill and a small group of horse lovers, all of whom had experience working with rescued animals. As a way of ensuring that each animal in their care received the attention it required, and because of limited resources, the charity limited the number of rescues it accepted in order to offer them the best care and rehabilitation possible.
Since its inception, the Alhaurín el Grande-based equine charity has helped, and found homes for, countless mistreated and abused horses, ponies and donkeys, but it is now facing another difficult year.
At last month's AGM, the president told members that last year alone the charity took in 40 equines and found homes for 30 of them. The centre works closely with the local authorities, accepting «pitiful and upsetting» cruelty cases through SEPRONA, the animal welfare arm of the Guardia Civil. But Jill is worried that even with the new animal cruelty legislation, the number of mistreated horses and donkeys will continue to rise.
«With the improvement in animal cruelty legislation, we are able to prosecute abusive owners. However, it is an uphill struggle to ensure that judges and public prosecutors are enforcing the new laws as intended, but with time the message will get through that animals have rights and we must uphold them,» Jill said.
The charity also works with a dedicated animal rights lawyer who endeavours to prosecute offenders, but Jill explains that this is «a frustrating and slow process».
«At the moment, there are 23 outstanding cases waiting to be heard in the courts, and SEPRONA are frequently understaffed. Often, by the time the necessary formalities have been completed to confiscate the suffering animals it is too late for us to save them,» Jill explained.
Jill thinks that the coming year could be even worse as the cost-of-living crisis tightens its grip. The centre accepted three new arrivals last week, a mare and two mules, which had been confiscated by SEPRONA on veterinary advice, as they were considered to be in a life-threatening situation.
«The mare was in a particularly bad way having been confined in a dark, cold basement with no bedding and inadequate food for a very long time. Unfortunately, the mare died shortly after we received her, which was very sad. Sometimes all ARCH can offer is veterinary care, comfort, and love in their last days,» Jill said.
Once the horses and donkeys are fully rehabilitated, Jill's main aim is to find them a forever home, so the charity offers them for fostering or adoption, which Jill said is an ongoing struggle.
«We anticipate a similar situation to the previous financial crisis once the impacts of the corona virus take effect, so our mission remains as important as ever,» she claimed.
The rescue centre is open to the public every Sunday from 10am until 2pm, while information can also be found on www.horserescuespain.org, or on the Centro Andalusi de Rescate de Caballos Facebook page.
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