There are some acts of cruelty so vile that we almost hesitate to share them as we know they will upset our followers. But we feel it is important for the wider public to realise some of the challenges we face and why charities such as ours are so vital in the fight for animal rights.
This past weekend ARCH were involved in one of the worst cases we have witnessed. SEPRONA (the animal welfare arm of the Guardia Civil) in the province of Huelva had called our lawyer, Aritz Toribio, to ask ARCH to be on standby as they had been called to a horse in difficulties. They called back a short time later to say that the horse had been buried alive under a mountain of rubble, stones and dirt as well as an old bath. It appeared that he had been there for several days with no food or water and, crushed by the weight, was dying a slow and cruel death. Youngsters passing through the area had found the nightmarish scene and started to dig out some of the debris to try and free the horse, who was desperately trying to escape.
For ARCH this presented a myriad of problems. We could not know whether the horse was likely to survive or whether it could be freed from its grave. Our rescue centre was four hours away from the scene and in provincial lockdown. The first step was to get a vet to assess the animal. The situation was critical as a local vet reported that the horse was in advanced stages of malnutrition and extremely weak. ARCH contacted the Centre’s dedicated equine vet so they could share information.
The next problem was what to do with the horse if he could be rescued. ARCH contacted a vet they had worked with in Huelva to provide what might be the necessary specialist veterinary care, transport was arranged, and nearby stables were contacted and put on standby. But the biggest problem remained – whether he could be got out safely. ARCH volunteers have had a great deal of practice in getting horses out of seemingly impossible situations, but the distance and severity of the situation proved insurmountable. Those on the ground could not see their way to attempt a rescue and, after several hours, the three vets agreed that the kindest thing to do was to put the horse to sleep as he was suffering.
Aritz Toribio specialises in Animal Law and works closely with SEPRONA and ARCH. He fights tirelessly for mistreated animals and was appalled by such a callous act. He told the local papers that “the horse was 25 years old so they probably wanted to get rid of him and they have done it in the most sadistic way they could.” SEPRONA are trying to trace the owner as the horse actually had a microchip and, should they be identified, ARCH will do everything to take the perpetrators to court where Artiz will demand the highest possible penalty for this unspeakable act of cruelty. This will be a costly process involving legal fees, veterinary support, and court appearances but, where it is possible, ARCH will always prosecute to demand justice for those animals who have no voice of their own.
One thing that slightly lifted the spirits of the ARCH volunteers after the sad outcome was praise for the charity from the head of the Huelva SEPRONA, who considered it “an honour to work with such a professional organisation”.