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Carmen Manzano. Marilú Báez
'Sterilisation has to be mandatory; that's all there is to it!'
Animal welfare

'Sterilisation has to be mandatory; that's all there is to it!'

Every day animals are handed over by their owners or found on the street to be brought to the Malaga shelter. On top of these are those that come from the municipal pound and those from other towns and provinces

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Friday, 19 April 2024, 12:47

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You only need to spend just a few hours at the Malaga Animal Protection Society's shelter to really see the extent of animal abandonment in the city. The centre, managed by this NGO with the support of the city council, private individuals and businesses, is overflowing with dogs and cats. For many of them, their nature, breed and especially their size (if large) makes it difficult for them to find a forever home, and they will spend the rest of their days there, cared for by 16 staff and about 200 volunteers. More than 400 animals live like this, mostly dogs.

SUR's visit was timely, coinciding with the arrival of a father and his son to surrender their dog. According to the dad, the dog belonged to his ex-wife but, following their separation, she lost interest in caring for the animal and he cannot take care of it. For Carmen Manzano, shelter president, all too often the root problem is exactly that: the pet is not regarded as part of the family. At least this one will be lucky because, being small, it has a much better chance of being adopted.

Litters

Every day these animals are handed over by their owners or found on the street to be brought to the shelter. On top of these are those that come from the municipal pound (by prior agreement) and those from other towns and provinces. But for this active campaigner, who is on the front line of the fight for animal rights, the most painful thing is the litters: "It's rare a week goes by without being left one or two litters of 8 to 12 pups. Sterilisation has to be mandatory, that's all there is to it!" she insists. Many do not manage to survive due to prior ailments, despite the fact that the 'Prote', as its members call it, has an extensive network of foster homes for these serious cases.

"We are so overcrowded that we actually have a waiting list for large dogs to be admitted when a space becomes free," says Manzano ruefully. In many cases they are the pets of owners who are sick or who have died and are signed over by their relatives.

Similarly, the animals themselves are also elderly. "We experience some drama here every day because, while it is true that the animals are looked after here, for an animal used to living in its own home, putting it in here is the same as we'd feel being imprisoned."

Besides all this, there are further challenges to face with inflation, increased cost of living and veterinary care. "Some very sick animals turn up with fractures, hit by a vehicle, cats with a fifth-floor fall... They are animals with an owner, but with such operations costing more than 1,000 euros many people surrender them saying they cannot afford it." For this reason, she is demanding that IVA (value added tax) be eliminated from veterinary treatment.

Owo other issues are exacerbating the current situation of abandonment: lack of suitable housing and the new, nationwide, animal protection law. For housing, there is the particular problem of finding a rental that allows pets.

Carmen Manzano believes that the new law gives people "more excuses" to abandon their pets. In reality this is just that, a convenient excuse, since measures such as having civil liability insurance for dogs have not yet come into force.

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