Generally I find Canarios to be warm, friendly, welcoming people. It’s one of the attractions of living here that when you walk down the street the faces you see are open and smiling as opposed to the grim, head down against the weather look I remember from Stockport. However, there is one quality displayed by some Canarios which both infuriates and saddens me and that is their attitude towards animals, or more specifically the attitude towards animals who have outlived their usefulness.
I’m not one of those naïve townies who suffers an attack of horrified indignation when I see farmers, or goatherds etc seemingly treat their animals roughly. I am a townie, but there are farmers in our family and I grew up seeing animals being treated with a firm hand. I’m talking about something completely different .
Not so long ago I watched a programme on a national Spanish TV channel where the presenter was interviewing a Tinerfeño hunter who had just taken a dog which wasn’t working out as a rabbit catcher into the hills where he dumped it. The guy explained that he wasn’t actually dumping the dog, he was letting him go so that someone else would take him in and he’d live happily ever after. What a load of old bollocks. This was how he justified his cowardly actions; he obviously just didn’t have the balls to take the dog out back and shoot it (not that I want anyone to do that particularly, but hopefully you get my point). It was a case of out of sight, out of mind.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s not uncommon to see mangy, desperately thin dogs scrounging around in Tenerife’s forests. I’ve even encountered packs of them up there from time to time.
How Could Anybody Dump Something Like These?
Dumping animals and hoping that someone else takes responsibility for them isn’t only confined to canines as we know only too well from personal experience living beside a cat sanctuary. Our neighbour, Marlene, was exasperated by the amount of cats dumped; sometimes up to 90 a month. To be fair, plenty of people brought their unwanted cats and kittens to the sanctuary during the day even though some of the men could be annoyingly stupid (covering their own groins and making ouch noises when Marlene suggested that they should have their cats neutered and then not actually taking her advice).
The ones I would really like to get hold of are the cowardly ones who come in the middle of the night when there’s no-one around and dump kittens in the vicinity of the sanctuary (people’s gardens, the golf course, the golf course car park), again hoping someone else takes responsibility. This happens with annoying regularity. Jesús, our ex-neighbour, caught a young couple doing this one night with a sick kitten which was in a bad way – something which they didn’t want to deal with. He nursed the kitten most of the night , but when he woke in the morning it was dead on his chest. Jesús was distraught, but I’m sure the young couple felt a lot better that they didn’t have to witness the kitten’s demise.
This weekend I watched another neighbour, Jessica cry her eyes out as I moved a dead kitten with a badly mangled leg from behind some bags of compost where it had dragged itself to die. It had turned up from somewhere over the weekend, but with the state its leg was in, I’m willing to bet it was dumped, especially as another kitten appeared the following day (there’s usually always more than one), albeit alive and well… for the time being.
This dumping of animals which are sick or unwanted is a cowardly act and demonstrates a childish avoidance of responsibilty – the people who do it are simply doing a ‘Pontius Pilate’ by passing their ‘problem’, usually caused by a lack of common sense in the first place, onto someone else.
The lucky ones end up in one of the island’s animal sanctuaries, where caring, selfless people try make life that little bit easier for these poor, frightened abandoned creatures. However, these sanctuaries are perpetually over worked and suffer from a severe lack of funding.
If you live on Tenerife, or even if you don’t, and would like to know how you can provide support, Tenerife Dogs is a fabulously interesting site which mixes sobering information with amusing anecdotes and tales (should that be tails?) to raise the plight of these poor little animals who suddenly find themselves unwanted. It also keeps readers up to date with ways in which they can help.
Finally, if by some chance anyone reading this is one of those people who have dumped a cat or a dog then do the decent thing and read Tenerife Dogs to find out how to make a donation and at least make some atonement for your past actions.