A woman of good will : Fabienne Paques saves dogs in Spain
The Belgian Fabienne Paques migrated with her husband 27 years ago to Mijas Costa, near Malaga in southern Spain. 'One day, I happened to land at the local dog kill station. Neglected animals were killed as in a death camp. I decided to save them. "
'If I look the eyes of those dogs, I'm lost' Fabienne Paques
«In the winter of 1999 I ended up in the 'perrera' or the municipal asylum. I was sickened at what I saw: it was like a death camp where neglected and abused dogs were killed. Those terrible scenes touched me so deeply that I decided to do something about it: I set up Animal Care España (ACE). I asked the operator of the killing station if I could rent some cages in which I could keep the dogs alive. With the financial support of sympathizers we hired more and more, until in 2008 we had occupied the entire station. We were able to convince the owner to let us convert the killing station into a place where dogs were no longer killed but were saved.
»We make a video of every dog that comes into our centre together with a profile that we post on our website. People in Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Denmark can adopt a dog. We visit all potential adopters, because we want to be sure that they know what they are doing. They must be aware that that dog is being flown in from Spain and that they can not just send it back. "
HUMO How many killing stations are there in Spain?
Paques «Every city has a perrera. That is typical Spanish and, like the bullfights, no longer of this time. Many Spaniards regard a dog as a disposable product. When they are tired of their pet, they take it to a killing station. That animal is then dispatched within ten days. That is legally so determined.
»Epiphany on 6 January is the biggest children's party in Spain. Traditionally, every child receives a puppy as a present. After a few years they get fed up with that animal and dump it in the perrera. The animal shelters are continuously overcrowded and every month hundreds of dogs are put to sleep.
»Every week I rescue dogs from a certain death. I also complain about these malpractices incessantly, but it remains an unequal struggle. Fortunately, the resistance is growing thanks to social media, but the government still does not take any measures. Nevertheless, I notice that the pressure from the rest of Europe is starting to weigh heavily. So hard that citizens can no longer just enter a killing station. Now I must first sign a paper declaring that I will not publish anything on the internet. If I do not like it, they will not let me in anymore. "
HUMO Are dogs gassed?
Paques «You can not write that anymore and you can not prove it either, because you are not welcome. Until 1999 the dogs of the perrera of Mijas Costa were gassed. Thanks to us, that has stopped. The mass killings in other perreras now take place behind the scenes. On paper they let dogs fall asleep, but because they are hundreds of animals at a time, they do not shun the easier option.
HUMO How many dogs are you in your care?
Paques «At the moment 550. That is pretty difficult, because we only live on donations. For an adoption we ask 300 euros and that money includes the care and transport. Every dog we put on the plane has been sterilised, has cleanly polished teeth, has been vaccinated and has all its official documents. Dog adoptions have become very complicated by the increasing bureaucracy, but my association has grown so much that there is no way back. When I look into the eyes of those dogs, I am completely lost. So far we have found new owners for 18,000 Spanish dogs. "
HUMO What do your Spanish neighbors think of ACE?
Paques «They think us crazy (laughs). "What are these Belgians doing?" In the killing stations, I must always remain calm, polite and calm, while I sometimes feel like hitting their faces. But if I do not stay friendly and do not put money on the table, I will not get the dogs. "