I am writing about the article published in the Resident (November 28 edition) about my petition. There are many points that I wish to make:
I do not understand why my identity has been described as a ‘mystery’.
I have not, at any stage, tried to keep my identity a secret. It is a very poor reflection on your standards of journalism that you did not make any attempt to speak to me.
You have reported that I am without work and about to be fired. I am self-employed as a solicitor so this is totally incorrect although I am not sure why this is relevant to the petition. I fully understand and appreciate the freedom of the press and opinion, but surely this should have been done having heard my side of the story.
My petition now has nearly 6,400 signatures. Many of the signatories are Portuguese who are unhappy about the situation with animals. The fact that you can dismiss the petition and the issue as you have done in your article (whilst showing a severely emaciated horse) shows the worst of the Portuguese attitude to this problem. I do not believe that the majority of the Portuguese people can or want to dismiss this issue in the way you have done.
There is absolutely no malice or spite attached to my petition. Why should tourists visit Portugal and see such horrendous images? Why should an EEC country be allowed to treat animals in this way? Whilst I understand and accept that we have cruelty in the UK as well, we have national organisations such as the RSPCA who step in and rescue animals and prosecute offenders in many situations. Horses on the road side, tied up in fields, hobbled, would not be tolerated in the UK and they would be removed from their owners. I have seen these sights on my many visits to Portugal over the past few years. I have donated considerable sums of money to horse charities in Portugal, so to say I have no compassion for animals is without foundation.
I love going on holiday in Portugal and want to be able to do so again but cannot whilst such horrendous cruelty is allowed to take place. The fact that the petition is being ‘played down’ by those in authority is exactly why the problem is there.
It is obvious that more publicity will have to follow to ensure that someone in authority does take notice. Other than targeting the tourist industry, I could not see any other way to bring the issue to the attention of the world. I will, however, be able to use the comments of those in authority, as you have reported, on the petition site as an impetus to gain more signatures.
There are so many inaccuracies in your report. My petition has not been ‘slated’. I have had at most 10 emails setting out why the petition is wrong but when considered against the number of signatures that strongly support the petition they are insignificant.
You have not published any of the hundreds of positive messages and expressions of support that appear on the petition. Horse and Hound was only a blog done on one day but I will now be taking more steps to promote the petition on other horse forums. This is particularly the case having read your article and seen the attitude of those in authority to whom you appear to have spoken. It is very sad that they do not acknowledge the problem.
Susan Clark, by email
Editor’s note: Dear Susan, thank you for your comments. I would like to point out that the Resident does not dismiss cases involving animal cruelty and abandonment, and reports widely on the subject. In recent times, we have also written at length about the new law in Portugal that criminalises animal abuse and abandonment cases. This we see as a very important step in the fight against animal cruelty in the country. By making our readers aware that they can act by reporting cases of animal abuse to the police will hopefully ensure the new law gains strength and is used by citizens for the benefits of animal welfare. Mentalities are changing too. You only need to read other reports we have written, in which criminal proceedings have already been launched against people who have mistreated pet animals. I will not comment on the way the authorities and others have reacted to your petition. However, I am grateful that you have contacted us with your views.