Animal-rescue GNR hailed as heroes for saving dogs from living hell in Mértola

GNR agents attached to the Service for Protection of Nature and the Environment are being hailed as heroes this morning after their efforts to save two dogs from what can only be described as a living hell at the hands of a middle-aged couple in Mértola.

The animals were found “hobbled” in a yard full of excrement – their coats bearing testimony to months if not years of neglect.

Newspapers are reporting that both dogs had their front legs tied to their back legs, to make movement practically impossible.

They had open wounds and sores, and it was their “howls of suffering” that alerted the policeman.

As Rita Silva, president of animal rights group ANIMAL, wrote on Facebook as the story broke: “Everything depends on the individuals who wear uniforms. Happily, in this case, they were decent people.”

Silva stressed that “what happened in Mértola almost never corresponds, sadly, to what happens in the huge majority of cases” where too many people are prepared to turn blind-eyes.

Tragically, in this case, only one of the animals has been removed for veterinary care.

The seriously-neglected dog is now in the hands of council vet services, but his ‘mate’ was left behind, to continue with the couple that are now being prosecuted for cruelty to animals.

The irony of the situation has inflamed animal lovers who point out that if this was a case involving children, they would both have been removed from their carers.

According to Notícias ao Minuto, the owners are “being accompanied by the authorities” – but this has not assuaged people’s concerns.

“We are trying to understand this,” ANIMAL’s quote replied to a concerned reader on Facebook. “It makes no sense at all”.

Rita Silva pointed out on the association’s online page that the new animal protection law is “only being adhered to by people with hearts”, when it should be complied to by everybody. “At the moment at ANIMAL, we’re receiving an average of 500 complaints (of animal cruelty) per month.”

Most of these come from people who have already contacted the authorities and received “absolutely ridiculous responses”.

For now, hopes are the more police and council veterinary services will act like the two agents from Almodôvar who brought to the surface the desperate reality of so many of the country’s so-called domestic animals.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]