The hell hole

By Michael Bruxo [email protected]

The privately-owned kennel ‘A Matilha’ in Rogil hit the headlines in May when it was revealed that dozens of dogs were being kept in appalling conditions by the owner, who used the kennel as a ‘rent-a-dog’ establishment for fellow hunters.

When the story went public, the owner transferred the dogs to unknown locations, leading touproar from animal supporters who had been following the case.

Four months later, a source from the group of citizens that had been helping the animals since December 2012 told the Algarve Resident that at least seven dogs were found in filthy cages hidden in the backyard of a relative, who lives in the centre of Rogil. Among them was a female dog which had just given birth to five puppies.

The same source forwarded pictures which show groups of dogs kept in small spaces with inadequate conditions – almost a ‘déjà-vu’ image of the original ‘hell’ kennel.

Further information concerning an exchange of emails between animal association SOS Animals and the municipal authority of Aljezur reveals that three of the kennel’s dogs, which were in the care of Aljezur-based animal charity association AEZA, were ordered by the authorities to be returned to their owner.

The association said that despite the fact that the town’s municipal authority did not agree with the decision to return the three dogs to their owner – at least not until the remaining “missing dogs” were found -the order for the return of the dogs was made on August 16.

“It is another travesty for animal rights in Portugal,” SOS Animals says on its website.

Groups of dogs are kept in small spaces with inadequate conditions – almost a ‘déjà-vu’ image of the original ‘hell’ kennel
Groups of dogs are kept in small spaces with inadequate conditions – almost a ‘déjà-vu’ image of the original ‘hell’ kennel

The Algarve Resident contacted AEZA, which confirmed that the three dogs were handed over to the owner due to an order by the competent authorities following a visit from SEPNA, the environmental division of the GNR police, and a group of veterinarians from Faro and Portimão.

The spokesperson for the association said that the dogs were in AEZA’s care for a month and were not yet in perfect health conditions. One of them was being treated for a urinary infection.

It was also revealed that the owner did not pay for any of the treatment or food while the animals were in the care of AEZA, claiming that the association is a charity that at the time was housing over 60 animals.

The regional GNR department was contacted, but was unable to provide any details on the case due to their ongoing investigation.

These developments have astonished the animal supporters who have been involved in this case since its beginning late last year.

Laura McGeoch, head of the SOS Animals association, despairingly told the Algarve Resident: “It seems there is nothing we can do.”

Since December 2012, local residents had been providing food and water to the dozens of hunting dogs that were being kept in appalling conditions at the Rogil kennel, where conditions were described as a “ghastly and living hell”, and had been inspected by the GNR and other authorities.

The animals were suffering from dehydration and starvation, as well as sickening wounds to some parts of the body which, in some cases, required amputation.

The member from the growing group of concerned followers and supporters who provided the Algarve Resident with some of the new information admitted that they are devastated by the discovery of the new pack of dogs, and believe that this is the last opportunity for authorities, such as SEPNA and the Câmara Municipal of Aljezur, “to act and show their ability to do what is right and take the dogs away from their abusive owner”.

“If the laws to protect and serve those in need fails again,” the source said, “we will take the matter into our own hands. We are fed up with the bureaucracy and incapacity of the authorities when lives are at stake. If an abused child is found, one does not wait three months to retrieve the child just because the report is not yet finished. Animals are living beings too, with feelings, emotions and the desire to spend their lives the best way possible. They should be treated with care and respect”.

Readers are informed that any kind of abuse or mistreatment of animals should immediately be reported to the local GNR.

Since this case was made known to the general public, a petition has been available online to fill the gap in the Portuguese law regarding the protection of hunting dogs. Almost 16,000 people have already signed the document, as well as a more recent petition (with more than 1,200 signatures) to save the Rogil dogs – if they can be traced – from their unknown fate and charge the kennel’s owner for his actions.

Portuguese animal rights association ANIMAL has also launched a petition demanding a new law for the protection of animals.

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