I International Meeting of Animal Protection Societies

II Jornadas Abandono y Sacrificio 0 - La Adopción Internacional - MUPAM Málaga


A few days ago we attended the II Meeting Zero  Abandonment and Sacrifice - International Adoption at the Museum of Municipal Heritage of Malaga. Here we bring you a brief summary of an intense day, full of emotions and even tears.


After the inauguration by the mayor, D. Francisco de la Torre, and the presentation by Luis Medina-Montoya, Dir. Gral. Environment and Sustainability Ayto. De Málaga, also master of ceremony, each one of the national speakers presented first a brief individual intervention, participating later on in the Panel International adoptions from the point of view of Spanish shelters and organizations.





Mª José Montes Martín, Head of Department of the Veterinary Service of the City Council of Madrid.

Commented on the implementation experience of Sacrificio 0 in Madrid, an issue that can’t be solved without an economic allowance, proportional to real needs and a global strategy change, addressing the causes (reducing abandonment and ensuring that there are enough adoptions). It’s impossible for this to be fast, the results can show medium and long term.


But, as shows the example of 15 years of Zero Sacrifice in Italy, they’re not bound to be successful: There’s only a transference of animals from the south, where the abandonment persists to the more educate and aware north of the country. 


She warns that establishing a law of Sacrifice or without prior diagnosis is irresponsible.


Zero Sacrifice without addressing the causes is NOT viable.


She also explained very graphically what happens when the capacity of resources is lower than the demand: It doesn’t work, and the minimum standards of animal welfare are NOT guaranteed.


Unlike in Malaga, the law  in Madrid contemplates only the obligation to collect stray and abandoned animals, not animals handed over by the owner (with the exception of cases of social need, previous account). But it also doesn't contemplate animals at risk (that come from mistreatment, illegal breeding, judicial actions).


Regarding facilitating adoption and ownership, she thinks that "everything free doesn’t work out".


It’s  not an economic problem but a cultural one. In U.S.A. the abandonment is inverse to the material and emotional "inversion" in the animal. Although she defends help lines for specific cases.



Carolina Corral,  Asociación Protectora ALBA (Madrid)

Has been traveling to Germany for more than 20 years, learning from foreign associations and her own practicises Zero Sacrificio since 1998. She points out that, despite being mandatory by law for more than 30 years now, 90% of the animals that enter the refuge are not identified.

Coincides with Carmen Manzano from the Málaga's shelter, that abandonments from hunters pose a big problem, with a very high peak, higher even than that of summer vacations.

And that (we all know) Affinity's official 'referenced' data are NOT correct, because they only contemplate abandoned or collected animals in centers, not those that remain on the street, the run over (and we’d like to add those collected by small associations without shelter and  and by private persons).




Jan Weima, Triple A Marbella


Entity with more than 25 years, that counts above all with support of foreigners living at the Costa del Sol. Asked about his native country, Holland, where there are no abandoned animals in the streets, he comments "If a small country like Holland can , we all can. " I’m afraid that it’s not as easy, because the culture of respect for animals differs greatly from one country to another (and sometimes even in the same country, as we’ve seen in Italy).


But he brings other, very good news: In Marbella, Javier Peromingo Jimenez, has trapped by now over 6.000 cats,  neutered  in collaboration with the Triple A - and a significant decrease in street cats is already showing. Control of cat colonies by #TNR works.  Pointing Luis Medina out that in Málaga it's done properly: R for return, not release, and already in the 2nd phase.  Ultimating a new agreement with AMAN for neutering more cats and training.




Fabienne Paques, ACE Animal Care (Mijas)


With almost 20 years in ACE, before a municipal pound, stresses that precisely the most important measure seems to be the most complicated to implement in Spain: castration.

She tells her experience with future adopters, that upon being informed that the animal must be neutered, no longer want to adopt. Jan Weima adds a similar experience, offering Triple A discount checks for castration and having a much lower demand than expected.

And it doesn’t seem to for economic reasons, which were also alluded to. But a subject tabu by association.


Another serious problem and enormous danger are for Fabienne Facebook, with thousands of people trying to place animals and municipal pounds, with animals given to anybody without control and follow-up.


Actually, in this context, the "legal obligation" of Malaga City Council’s pound to deliver animals to anyone (unless they had a file for abuse) shockes.



Carmen Manzano, presidenta de la Protectora de Málaga

Insists  on the issue of hunting and explains that although in Malaga capital there seems to be some control, in the villages it’s not like that (zulus). And that the differences of abandonment in rural and urban areas  require different measures.  She requests the control of dog owners, hunters and breeders. To create records of the number of dogs at the beginning and end of the hunting season, a records of abuse / abandonment and more control of Potentially Dangerous Dogs in certain areas of Málaga. 

Malaga’s shelter has a international adoption rate of 10% in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Germany through the Podenco World association. 



Virtually all local representatives consider it necessary to prohibit the breeding and sale by private individuals and regulate breeders through licenses and controls. And the importance to identify, neuter and vaccinate







With representatives of several associations from Germany, Finland and Holland, who came expressly from their countries for this meeting to Malaga to tell their experiences and difficulties with international adoptions. Excited with their rescues, sometimes even to tears. 



Katrin Leber, Helfende Hände (Germany) 

has been a volunteer for 10 years collaborating with Triple A as a foster home for elderly and traumatized  animals. Professionally working in the social field with people in need, she is assisted by her dog, who "often does the better job". As in Germany there’s always been Zero Sacrifice, her "greatest dream would be to be able to achieve this also in Spain".


She points out that adoptions involve considerable work. From the pre-adoption visit, the transport and the post-adoption follow-up each adoption requires at least 20 hours (which add to professional work and private life). 



Roza Coers + Afke, Podenco World (Netherlands) 

Founded in 2011, they collaborate with several shelters in Andalusia, Tenerife, Valencia, Catalonia. She talks excited about the podencos, which according to her are the great forgotten. "People in Spain do not adopt podencos as pets, because they consider them as hunting dogs to be too active" . And, although every time more people from outside of animal protection are aware of the drama of greyhounds (galgos), it is not the same with podencos. She insists that hunter control and education are  essential. 



Beate Emerich-Schmittner, Pfotenhilfe Andalusien (Germany) 

Founded in 2012. They collaborate with Apama (Lucena), Protectora de Málaga, Procani (Osuna), Modepran (Valencia), among others. Helped in her exhibition by Andrea Wilkens





Pirjo Kilpiäinen-Tuomisto, Los Perros de Andalucía (Finland)

Began her collaboration in international adoptions after visiting a refuge in Spain 6 years ago. They look for homes for dogs that have been in the shelter for a long time (elderly, Potentially Dangerous Dogs). 

She tells that through malpractice (dog with falsified documentation brought from Russia), that caused a great commotion in the media, the Finnish public opinion has turned against rescue dogs from abroad. And there are few veterinarians in her country who have knowledge about Mediterranean diseases like Leishmaniosis. 



All come from associations with a very small team. They are happy to help and save animals that often do not have a chance in Spain. But, they warn of the need to do it well: They agree on the importance to be being especially careful with the sanitary protocol in Spain and carrying out tests for diseases that are frequent in Spain, but sometimes nonexistent (Leishmaniosis in Finland) or eradicated ( parvo and distemper in Belgium) in their countries. And to work with the dogs in Spain, to accustom them to a family life. 


It is also pointed out that unfortunately there are unscrupulous associations that use people's pity to enrich themselves, not making pre- and post-adoption visits and creating a bad reputation, which affects those who work well. 




The meeting was completed by




by Fidel Causse, member of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Andalusian Council of Veterinary Colleges and Vice President of ColVet Málaga, 

briefly explaining the legal regulations for the movement of animals between European countries, that differentiate between displacements WITHOUT commercial spirit (with the owner or responsible) and commercial displacements. The TRACE system (obligatory inscription of shelters and associations), that collects origin and destination of the animal in its passport (data changes to the new owner/ adopter have always to be made at destination) and the compulsory clinical examination by an authorized veterinarian. 

In Malaga, 2925 TRACES were issued in 2017 for 4517 dogs and cats and in the first semester of 2018 there were 1482 TRACES for 2314 animals. 


He also talks about the importance of implementing mandatory vaccination against rabies at a national level in Spain (risk of animals from Morocco) and unify the REIAC (Spanish Register of Companion Animals). And that it is necessary to prohibit breeding and sale by private individuals, generating many times genetic diseases, which is animal mistreatment. 





by Rafael Martínez Avial, CEO Tiendanimal

Based  on interviews with owners, veterinarians and shelters. He comments a distance in legislation  and reality, where there is  (at least in part) a change in behavior towards domestic animals, considering them today part of the family. On the other hand, the number of abandoned animales is "unbearable and unbecoming of a country like Spain." And while acknowledging that the survey probably reflects mostly the more aware people, we believe that it is, if not very reliable (those of Affinity aren’t as well), at least interesting:         

  • Animal ownership: 85% dogs, 35% cats 
  • Origin: 53% adopted, 26% rescued from the street, 44% purchased.
  • Time dedicated / day: 43% of owners dedicate 3-5 h, 20% to a third take out their dogs 3 times or more a day, while there are also those who never take them out (1 of 7 owners). 
  • Deworming: 35% deworms regularly 
  • Preventative care: 62% take their animal to preventive check-ups, while 17% go to the veterinarian only if essential. 
  • Vacations and trips: 37% take their pets with them and 33% leave them to the care of a family member or friend. 
  • Average annual cost: € 1,198 (limentation € 780, accessories + toys € 86, veterinary care 323 €)
  • Collaboration with animal protection: 30% donate money or food, 12% foster and 37% share on social networks.

The animal protection societies point out as main problem financing. Origin: own contributions, members, donations from private persons. (More) collaboration of public organisations  and companies would be welcomed.


Striking is the average cost of € 103 per animal / year, which contrasts sharply with the almost 20 times more of an animal in a home. 






A pity the poor attendance. The interventions were very interesting and the organization great (even with simultaneous translation) - except perhaps for the midweek date, which surely was the reason for so many empty chairs. 


We fully agree with Mª José Montes and Carolina Corral that "Everything free doesn’t work" and "Making adoption / renouncement of animals too easy is spoiling the owners". In any adoption, wherever it may be, there must be a process of control and follow-up pre- and post-adoption. In Germany, eg, the adoption fee is called "protection fee", and confers value to the animal (protects because being free means for some to have no value). 


It is not necessary or obligatory to have pets. They are not a good or a free item that can be returned (again free - and in the case of Malaga they even pick it up) when it doesn’t suit anymore. It should be punishable (except in case of serious social problems) to "abandon" a being of which one has voluntarily become responsable at the pound or a shelter.


If in the distant future we want to reach Zero Sacrifice, necessarily involves reducing significantly abandonment. And the tactics of making adoption and renouncement too easy and free, go right in the opposite direction. 


We also learned sadly that the Internet diffusion of cats from the pound, for which not so long ago the page Gatos de Málaga (Cats of Málaga) was created, is stopped.



That is why we were very excited about the news form a girl from Bormujos (Seville), who had come to Malaga only for the meeting, and at the Coffee Break told us that her town council has started to collaborate with TNR  and they have already 150 cats neutered.. 


If last year we discussed the need to innovate and cited the example of the SPCA, USA, who to prevent abandonment advise the owners in case of problems and unwanted behaviors, today Mª José Marin from Madrid confides something similar - although for other reasons:  Madrid’s pound advise the owners to seek professional help.


We repeat: The prevention of abandonment clearly involves educating the owner.


And to put the proposed solutions to practice (it’s been years now asking to prohibit breeding and sale by private persons and createing of  a register of hunting dogs) - if not these meetings are little more tan posturing.


United we can - but we have to put aside the egos, to defend our own position and listen and learn from the others. How Mª José Montes said at a critical moment: We all make mistakes and the union is always better, although the motivations may be different: The goal is the same.




P.D. We didn’t want to extend this post too much, but we think it important to add the following.


Quedó más que claro que el abandono en España es una cuestión "cultural".

"Los que abandonan saben lo que hacen y que está mal" (Mª José Montes). Y son los mismos que no identifican y no castran. Y la razón porque las campañas de tenencia responsable y contra el abandono no funcionan: No es que no sepan, es que no les importa. 


Está científicamente demostrado que actuamos distinto porque pensamos distinto (tenemos distintas estructuras cognitivas), producto de entorno y crianza. Y, cómo también se apuntó, es muy difícil a imposible cambiar eso en ciertas personas.


Por lo cual es IMPRESCINDIBLE que todo animal esté censado y así trazable. Abandono 0 y Sacrificio 0 pasa necesariamente por cifra negra 0. Ningún animal sin identificar. Eso únicamente se consigue prohibiendo de una vez la cría por particulares y controlando criaderos y cazadores.


It showed more tan clear that abandonment in Spain is a "cultural" issue.

"Those who abandon know what they do and that it’s wrong" (Mª José Montes). And are the same ones that do not identify and do not neuter. And the reason why the campaigns for responsible ownership and against abandonment do not work: It's not that they don’t know - they don’t care. 


It is scientifically proven that we act differently because we think differently (we have different cognitive structures), product of environment and upbringing. And that it’s very difficult to impossible to change that in certain people, as also pointed out,.


Therefore it is ESSENTIAL that all animals are registered and traceable. Zero Abandonment and Zero Sacrifice necessarily passes  by zero dark figures. Not one unidentified animal. This is only achieved by prohibiting breeding by private persons at once by and controlling breeders and hunters.


Related posts

I Jornada Málaga Sacrificio 0 - I Meeting Zero Sacrifice Málaga (in Spanish)

I Jornadas Felinas Andaluzas -  I Feline Meeting Andalusia (in Spanish)





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