Animal welfare has still a long way to go in Spain where support organisations are barely recognised and promoted and where, in Spanish law, animals are still described as inanimate objects, so Sunday’s initiative by the Orihuela Town Hall, in conjunction with ASOKA Animal Protection Centre, was hugely welcomed across the region.
With the support of the Councillor for Orihuela’s International Residents, Sofía Álvarez, and the Councillor for Health, Noelia Grao, the very first Orihuela Costa Dog Marathon was held at Villamartin.
More than a hundred dog lovers and their pets, of all nationalities, gathered together in the car park across from Villamartin Square, where they registered their animals prior to joining together in a 3 km solidarity walk, the aim of which was to promote animal awareness and responsible animal ownership to everybody in the region.
Many had travelled with their pets from Orihuela City and its outlying villages because, in the words of one dog walker from Hurchillo, “as human beings, it is our duty to have feelings toward animals that, without us, are completely voiceless.
Cllr Alvarez said that “Awareness amongst the public, in a country where more than 140,000 animals are abandoned every year is a must, and it is up to the 40% of Spanish homes that have at least one pet, to educate the remainder. The correct management of animals does not only mean improvements in animal welfare, but it can be beneficial for the wellbeing of humans as well.”
The ASOKA Animal Protection Centre was also on hand where they were displaying and selling a variety of pet products and merchandise, profits from which will help with the running costs of their home.
Only partially funded by the Municipal Government, volunteer Nick Moore said that the charity takes in upwards of 1000 abandoned animals every year. He added that the centre has a ‘no kill’ policy, and the intention is always to rehome locally wherever they can.
He then said that on finding a stray animal, members of the public should not take it direct to the centre but should always call the Local Police on 062 who will then notify AOSKA.
Speaking of the walk itself, Cllr Grao said she was delighted by the participation emphasising the firm commitment of the Government to animal welfare, and promising that the walk would now become an annual event in the council’s programme of events.
She added “Although the council has a major role on solving animal welfare issues, we as individuals should also realise our duties towards animals. It will help them a lot.”
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
More information on AOSKA can be found at: www.protectoraoriolana.org