Justice for Vela: first prison sentence in the Canaries given for animal maltreatment
Update 16 January 2013: The Courts have rejected G.R’s appeal and upheld the sentence of three months imprisonment and a year’s ban on any profession, work or business connected with animals. The appeal Court also upheld the compensation to Clínica Veterinaria Arka de Noé and Clínica Veterinaria La Gallega of €5,739.72 and €276.70 respectively. Animal protection group Addanca, after five years fighting this case have finally achieved the judgement they sought.
Update 6 September: Justice for Vela, indeed. The Juzgado de lo Penal Número 3 de Santa Cruz de Tenerife has passed an historic sentence, sending the 80-year-old Güímar man to prison for three months for animal maltreatment. Compensation of around €6.000 has been awarded. Let’s hope it marks the start of a complete cultural shift where such abuse is despised and receives the contempt it deserves.
Update 13 April: The man accused of maltreating Vela, identified as G.R., said in Court today that he had never mistreated her or any other animal and, indeed, that he had given her food. He said that she wasn’t his dog and that she had been abandoned in his banana plantation where she had lived with his two dogs. He insisted that over the time she had been with him she had been well behaved but had disappeared one day; he had next seen her after an intervention by the Arafo Policía Local, by which time she had been injured. Vela’s previous owner, however, testified that he had given her to the accused because he needed a guard dog for his finca.
The president of Addanca, Teresa González, gave evidence that the Policía Local had found Vela suffering from hypothermia and unable to stand, weighing only 14 kilos. Vets said that her extensive injuries could not have resulted from an accident, that she needed five operations, and had taken a whole year to recuperate fully. The Policía Local testified that that they had found her in a bin, with scars, ulcers and half dead.
A friend of the accused gave evidence that G.R. was incapable of killing animals, being unable even to kill the pigs or chickens from his finca. He confirmed that G.R. fed Vela as well as other abandoned dogs in the street.
The hearing continues.
Original post 12 April: Unbelievably it’s the first case of animal cruelty that has actually made it to Court in the Canaries, but tomorrow the case of the German Shepherd bitch Vela will hopefully see the start of justice for these poor animals who are victims of wilful human cruelty. Vela’s case is horrible but sadly far from unique. Half starved to death, beaten brutally, and with scars from abrasive liquid used on her coat, she is alive only through the efforts of animal welfare organization Addanca which is behind the case against the 80 year old accused of harming her. He, it seems, is not on the receiving end of such accusations for the first time, and took on Vela after she had been ceaselessly bred by her previous owner for puppies to sell.
The actual proof for the legal case is somewhat thin, it appears, but Addanca has nonetheless called for a prison sentence (the maximum possible is one year), payment of outstanding vet bills of some €5,000, and a two year ban from keeping animals; the public prosecutor is also asking for indemnity of €1,000. Addanca has also begged for support for a protest to take place outside the hearing at 11.30am tomorrow, Friday, at the Santa Cruz Courts. The dog’s case has become a cause celebre in Spain, trending on twitter under hashtag #justiciaparavela.