This Netherlands based sanctuary receives on average 150 to 200 daily desperate messages from shelters and individuals all over Spain who are unable to cope with the abandoned animals dumped on their doorstep. The statistics tell us that 200.000 cats and dogs are abandoned in that country every year, though Bright Eyes estimates it as much higher.
BES started ALAS last year, a dog adoption project to help with the most desperate cases finding homes for them in the Netherlands, but considers this to be a mere drop in an ocean of hopeless dogs and cats, and concentrates its efforts in helping the shelters with information, channelling any available funding to help with food and medicines and promoting spey and neuter campaigns at an official level. Normally the municipal authorities have their own dog pounds or, increasingly, hire the services of exterminator companies that are not controlled or supervised by anyone. The horror stories attached to their activities are truly appalling.
It is a fact well documented in some countries of South America, such as Argentina or Uruguay, that mass castration campaigns of cats and dogs is the most cost effective, ethical and real solution to the problem of abandoned pets.
The Spanish shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals and although many would dearly like to be no-kill shelters, reality bites hard. Some have up to 700 animals living in concentration camp conditions, getting little or no support from the local government and dealing with all sorts of problems such as parvo epidemies, the dreaded Leishmaniasis disease in some parts of Spain is present in up to 70% of their dogs, a hostile environment.
To add to the problems facing the shelters there are the hunters; many of their discarded dogs end up there, invariably needing urgent veterinarian care. The Spanish hunters are perhaps the most irresponsible and ruthless in Europe, as it is cheaper for them to get new dogs every year than keep them from season to season. These dogs are in most cases kept starved and thirsty in filthy dark sheds and by the time the lucky ones get to the shelters they are in truly dreadful condition, many too far gone to recover.
It is very important to help the Spanish shelters and support them in their efforts to educate both the government and the general population. If they get enough food for the animals and funding for veterinarian care, vaccinations and spay and neuter operations, they will have more time and energy to tackle the root causes of the present situation.
Iris Gallegos, Director
The BrightEyes Society