From dog pound to Sweden

It's good that we believe we are European citizens and civilised, educated people, modern, technological, tele-workers, proud of our culture and our progress. But scratch the surface a little and you find that this is no more than a bright exterior; inside, the walls are damaged and cables are dangling down. Although our appearance may be different - clean, shiny, polished, and with AVE and 5G - in many ways we have evolved very little from that crude, rural and illiterate country, the one of the pretty Milana and the Holy Innocents that Camus portrayed.

It's true that we don't kill so much now, or so many, although still too many end their days before they should, in public dog shelters which are overcrowded and where injections are easy; or at the hands of some unscrupulous hunters. Let's not fool ourselves. All we have now is a new escape valve, and we export thousands of the dogs that are abandoned here each year to Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries, to Germany and the Netherlands. In other words to real European countries, where domestic pets are treated with a respect that we will never understand even in another 100 years. All we are doing is clearing our conscience and believing we are something that we are not, and which I fear we will never be.

The fact that Spain in general and Malaga (because of its strong focus on tourism) in particular should be one of the main exporters of abandoned animals fills me with shame. Don't get me wrong: it's better than putting them down, even if it means they have to go to Australia. As an amimal lover I am truly grateful to these people for the efforts, which I can see they make, to get these animals out of cages and give them a home and warmth (it's a paradox that they have to go somewhere as cold as Scandinavia for it). But I cannot get over the fact that we care so badly for domestic animals that people from other countries have to step forward to take them from us and look after them.

What I really want is to be able to tell them there aren't any, that they will have to go and look for some elsewhere and help them because we have the situation under control, but this is so far-fetched that it is a journey like the thousands of kilometres that these animals have to travel to find a home with families of blonde people. For that to happen, sterilisation would have to be obligatory and breeding only permitted under control; as well as a rigorous census about who has an animal and the sanitary conditions in which they are kept, their health, their food and the care they receive. Until then, do me a favour and stop believing we are Europeans, because clearly we are not.