An Alicante-based equine sanctuary has called on Spanish police forces to act more quickly in cases of animal abuse after delays prevented the rescue of two severely neglected horses in Valencia.
Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre co-founders Sue and Rod Weeding were shocked to receive damning photos of the two obviously starving horses on March 19, part of evidence collected for an official “denuncia” police report made by lawyers from Valencia’s College of Lawyers (Animal Rights Section).
The lawyers were desperately seeking a refuge for the neglected horses, as Spain’s authorities have no facilities to house seized equines, meaning such animals often remain with their owner even after an official denuncia has been made.
Sue and Rod instantly agreed to take the two horses but nearly a month of delays and inaction by local authorities, including police and Seprona, followed.
This week the two neglected horses, as well as a dog with visible head wounds, disappeared from the Valencia property, presumably moved by the owner to prevent their rescue.
The animals’ whereabouts and welfare is now unknown.
“We are devastated. It’s just so upsetting when you think how many weeks this has gone on and that these animals are literally starving,” Sue said.
“We’ve been doing this for many years now but when we see photos like that, it still upsets us deeply. We just want to rescue these animals and help them. It’s so frustrating. We nearly got them and then we lost them.”
The Valencian lawyers continue to look into the horses’ whereabouts, but hold little hope of finding them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated event. Over the nine years the Weedings have run their Rojales sanctuary, they’ve seen similar cases on many occasions.
Sue explained that Spain’s current animal welfare system requires a rescue centre to agree to take any abused equine before it can be legally seized. Yet the government doesn’t provide any funding to centres like Easy Horse Care.
This also requires strong cooperation between local authorities and rescue centres, so abused animals can be rescued quickly before neglectful owners have time to move them.
“I can’t praise the police in our area enough. The problem is, in other parts of Spain, there aren’t organisations like ours that can take equines,” Sue said.
Sue called for the government to fund centres like Easy Horse Care and appealed to the police to act on denuncia reports as quickly as possible to help lift animal welfare across Spain.
“Through our charity shops and donations we’ve managed to get where we are, but we so desperately need funding,” she said.
“For the police to do their work, they need to have somewhere to place these animals.”
It seems Spanish people want change as well. Sue and Rod, who are British expats, have been stunned by the local response to news of the horses’ disappearance on their Easy Horse Care Facebook page.
“The comments and the emotion from Spanish people following this story are so encouraging,” Sue said.
“Spain is changing and this is such a positive move forward. They want change and they’re embracing animal welfare. The wheels are turning, but the government needs to get on board.”
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre relies entirely on donations to fund its important animal welfare work. Located just outside Rojales at Partido Lo Garriga, 59, the centre opens to the public on the first Sunday of every month between 1pm and 4pm. Free horse tours run throughout the afternoon and refreshments are available in the café. For more details and directions, please visit www.easyhorsecare.net.