ESTRELLA HER STORY –
The elderly owner of this beautiful chestnut mare had already been found guilty on two counts of animal cruelty. Allegedly suffering from the onset of dementia he punished Estrella by tying her up in a field with no food or water. In her struggles to find water she injured herself badly when the rope became entangled with her back leg. Luckily a good Samaritan saw her injuries and called Seprona. A vet was called to administer first aid to enable her to travel to the ARCH Rescue Centre. Our vet Rocio was horrified to see the extent of her wound which was full of maggots and loose pieces of bone. For the next twelve months our devoted team treated her wound daily, in an unrelenting battle with flies and wasps. After a year the mobile Xray team led by veterinary surgeon Jose Mendez finally declared her fit for gentle hacking although she will almost certainly have a degree of arthritis in the leg .
Just when we thought we were out of the woods and with Estrella on the mend, the bombshell hit. In the court case brought against her ex owner, (without our knowledge) he was fined 600 euros for animal cruelty but incredibly the judge had awarded him the ownership of the mare. No mention was made in court of our considerable costs.
The second bombshell hit when he arrived at ARCH with a court order and a lorry to collect the mare, accompanied by the Guardia Civil. We were ordered to hand her over. Our vet saved the day, persuading him that Estrella was under her care for a bad cold and needed at least ten days more before she would be fit to travel. The Guardia Civil didnt believe this story and we were ordered to hand her over or be found guilty of contempt of court and arrested. However, the gate was locked and the Guardia Civil had no orders to break in, we were adamant that they could not take her by force so finally they all retreated.
The situation was still serious but the Refugio del Burrito came to our aid, intervening with the court.. We were assisted by our wonderful animal rights lawyer Raquel who pleaded so eloquently for the rights of her client Estrella. It was a nerve racking few weeks, expecting to be arrested at any moment – Estrella was spirited away into hiding. Then the judge relented. We were permitted to present an account of our costs which amounted to over 9000 euros. Estrellas owner was given two options — pay the costs and take his mare home or we would waive our costs and keep Estrella.
Predictably, when faced with such an option, he begged us to keep the mare.
We cant thank our lawyers enough. Without them, our vet and the Refugio del Burrito we dread to think what Estrellas future would have been. She would surely have been punished and starved again.
We hope that this episode will prove to be a test case and help educate the court officials in procedures to prevent and punish animal cruelty.
Estrella must be the only horse who has two lawyers and a barrister on her payroll. ! Jill Newman-Rogers