This is a big problem here in Spain, but there are certain procedures that must be adhered to when finding a dog that you think may have been abandoned.

Many people come to the vet clinics when they find abandoned or lost dogs or cats. The first thing we do is to check if the animal has some form of identification, so that we can contact its owner. Often we have animals that do not have any identification, so we do not know anything about where they have come from and sometimes they have some disease that needs vet assistance. The person who brings us the animal almost always thinks that we have an “obligation” to adopt all the weak animals in the world just because we are vets. We usually take in and give “free” assistance to those animals that have no identification if the situation warrants it. We then have the dilemma of what to do once the animal has recovered.

The local kennels and rescue centres are always full, so what do we do? We always try to look for an owner through ads or our clients, but often we have had a place the animal in a hospital environment just because these animals have no owners, but this is not an ideal situation. Vets feel obliged to take in ill animals due to their professional ethics. However, many people do not understand that a vet clinic is a business and we cannot take all animals wandering in the street.

kittensIn spite of this, we often make the mistake of taking in these animals, waiting for someone to pick them up. About three weeks ago, we were told about a dog which had suffered an accident on El Alamillo beach. We took it in our clinic for 10 days and nobody asked about it. Also, we hosted a group of kittens abandoned inside a rubbish container until we found an owner and we had a dog for 19 days that was completely healthy, waiting for someone to ask about it. The animal, although it was very quiet, did not want to be inside all the time, so we had to give it tranquillisers at night. The situation became unbearable, so we decided leave it at the same place where the clients, who brought it us, found it.

In my opinion, the presence of a free animal wandering in the street is a big problem and the responsibility, firstly for the owner, since he/she has the obligation of taking care of his/her animal, which should be identified with a chip (this is obligatory is some towns), and secondly, for the Town Council, who must avoid the presence of stray animals in the streets by means of a permanent service of local kennels. They must make people obey the law if they want pet animals, demanding identification by micro-chip and vaccination against rabies.

It is unfair that people try to get vets involved in forced adoption of animals just because they are vets. Although my name is Francisco, I consider myself a professional working at my job and not as the Asis Saint. Our profession obliges us to heal whenever possible with our hands, and although I help whenever I can, I do not have any moral obligation of adopting all the abandoned animals in the town. If we were obliged to do this, I could estimate that we would have 4-5 abandoned animals brought to our clinic each month, with this number increasing in summer months. It has to be the responsibility initially of the owners of these animals, but it is also the responsibility of those that rescue the animals to make sure that they help in either finding the original owner, or re-homing the animal.

Article written and supplied by Paco,

Clinica Veterinaria Puerto de Mazarrón.