Thinking about adopting a dog or cat? Or maybe buying one? When it comes to pets, there are a number of factors worth considering before forking out large amounts of your cash. A failure to do your research may mean you’ll end up continuing to have to fork out large amounts of cash on your pets in the future!
If you are considering adding a dog or a cat to your family maybe you’d consider adopting from one of the local rescue centres? In our region, there are two main centres from where you can adopt lost or abandoned pets: Apa Rodamón just outside Palafrugell, and Bú Bup Parc, near La Bisbal. You can arrange to visit these centres and see for yourself the animals that are being looked after there. Who knows, one of them might just steal your heart away!
If you adopt from either of these places your new furry friend will come complete with a pet microchip, up-to-date vaccinations plus its health book, and it will be neutered. There will be an adoption fee which, on the one hand, helps to cover the operational and veterinary costs of the centre but is also intended to discourage people from adopting an animal if they are not really serious about giving it a home and the love and care it deserves.
Sadly, pets are far too frequently abandoned or mistreated by owners who probably never should have had a pet animal in the first place. This was especially the case during the first coronavirus lockdown when a large number of dogs were adopted just so their new “owners” could legitimately go outdoors for a walk, and as soon as restrictions were eased many of these poor pooches were abandoned.
Beware of the puppy farms!
If you adopt your new pet from a rescue centre like one of those mentioned above, you can be sure that the animal has been vaccinated and looked after during its time there. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the many illegal “puppy farms” or “puppy mills” operating all over this country. In these “mills”, or criaderos, the puppies are very often imported from abroad – in Spain, they typically come from Eastern Europe – where they are sold by weight and then transported by truck across Europe in cages.
The reason they are imported is that they are cheap and therefore can be sold on for a large profit. The puppies (and also kittens in some cases) usually come with fake certificates that show they are healthy and vaccinated whereas in all probability neither is the case. Once they arrive on the puppy farm they are kept in cramped and squalid conditions without proper nutrition or veterinary care or hygiene, often exposed to the elements. Any of the females that are not sold off are kept and impregnated over and over again until they can produce no more litters, at which time they are deemed “useless” and therefore killed. Just before Covid-19 struck in 2020 a farm with 270 puppies being kept in horrible conditions was raided on the outskirts of Madrid.
Don’t be a pet racist!
The target market for these illegal breeders are people who want “pure race” or pedigree animals and are willing to pay for them. If you feel you absolutely MUST have a pedigree dog it is important to thoroughly research the breeder and make sure all the paperwork is legitimate. It is also a good idea to go and meet both the breeder and your prospective new pet if at all possible. A genuine breeder will usually keep the pups for a couple of months or so to allow them to remain with their mothers and to socialise with other pups before allowing them to be taken to their new home.
Unfortunately, whilst there are some reputable dog breeders out there, they seem to be far outnumbered by the illegal puppy farms that, if raided, typically quickly spring up again in another location under a new name. If you think you are getting an absolute bargain for a pedigree breed and it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Always investigate the breeder! The genuine ones will not object at all.
It is also worth noting that purebred dogs and cats are far more prone to certain health problems than mixed breed animals. The reason is that “as many of these gene pools are limited or closed, the risk of genetic defects rises significantly with each successive coupling. Defects include a higher risk of cancer and tumors; eye and heart disease; joint and bone disorders; skin, immune system and neurological diseases; and even epilepsy.” Be prepared to face possibly frequent and expensive veterinary bills.
If a pet is found the best course of action is to bring it to a rescue centre as this will maximize the chances of it being reunited with its owner. If the pet has no microchip and is brought to a rescue centre it will be kept there for up to 21 days after which time it will be made available for adoption. So, if your pet has gone missing and has not been microchipped, the first thing to do is to check with your closest animal rescue centres and keep checking every day in case it turns up. If your pet has a microchip, things become much easier as the centre will be able to see its owner’s details and they will contact you. If the owner of a microchipped animal is contacted and (s)he refuses to come and claim the animal the rescue centre will then report the owner for animal abuse and abandonment and (s)he will be hit with a fine.
If you happen to have a pooch you’ll know already that you probably won’t be able to bring him or her with you to most Costa Brava platjas – certainly not during the summer season at least – but the good news that there are certain designated beaches for Fido to frolic on. Check out this link for doggie-friendly Costa Brava beaches. There isn’t a huge number of them, but at least there are some, and a couple of them are very nice too!
Pets have real feelings too, officially!
Finally, as of January 2022, pet animals in Spain are no longer considered as material objects by law but as sentient beings and their place as legitimate members of the family officially recognized. This means that if a couple should divorce the courts can rule on whether the couple share joint custody or that one partner gets sole custody and how much the other must pay in maintenance. In addition, if one partner has been convicted of neglect or abuse of pets, they may also be denied custody of their children. So as well as being nice to your pets, it’s probably also wise to be nice to your partner!