I recently arrived home from Tenerife where I spent a wonderful month visiting my parents. As always Tenerife was beautiful – sunny and full of fun for my daughter and I. My memories of the holiday are tinged with sadness though as I remember the two suffering dogs we walked past every day. As I sit in my comfortable New York apartment with the air conditioning on and my own dog curled up in his bed my thoughts often wander back to these “chained dogs” and their miserable existence.
It concerns me greatly that in this day and age dogs be treated in such a way. A chained dog suffers immense psychological damage and will inevitably become neurotic. Sadly through no fault of its own it may well become aggressive and then have to suffer the wrath of the owner. Spain has no animal welfare laws to protect our loyal four-legged friends and no large organizations such as the RSPCA in the UK or PETA in the US to fight on their behalf. Surely it is time for us – the everyday citizen to stand up and help these poor animals. After all it is the human race who chose to domesticate dogs to serve our need for companionship and also for working purposes. Surely they now deserve our support in times of ill-treatment. The chained dogs you see in a backyard are exactly the same as the pampered pooches sitting in our family homes. They are sociable animals and thrive on the company of other dogs and humans, they feel pain and need exercise, food and water. It is time for us to support the small charities fighting desperately to help these dogs and if we do see abuse we must speak to the owners and express our concerns. We can ask our local communities to do the same and if nothing improves let’s take the issue further to the local town council and report our findings to the government and tourist authorities demanding change. However large this fight is, change will only occur from the grassroots up.
When I spoke to the Dogs Welfare Trust funded from a small second-hand shop in Los Christianos I realized just how widespread this problem is. So far in three and a half years they have rescued and re-homed over 300 dogs but this is just a fraction of the population that needs help. The President of the charity Janet de la Rosa tries to check as many bins as possible every morning as puppies are often thrown out still alive in plastic bags with the trash. Apparently it is not commonplace to neuter dogs and there is a deep-seated belief that animals have no soul and so are of no consequence anyway. So far this year she has rescued over 40 puppies from this fate and says she “can’t afford to think about those we didn’t find in time”. Such charities are crying out for volunteers, foster families and donations. We can all do something, however small to help make a change for the better.
Please don’t just turn your head the next time you witness suffering.
Mrs. Jo Wilkes, New York