THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
|Animal sanctuary - a Brighton woman is fighting to save dogs|
This week Chris Packham gets his teeth into another under cover investigation
involving the rescue of mistreated and neglected dogs.
lives in a small flat in Brighton, with several dogs for company.
them are rescue dogs from Spain.
Catherine says, "I lost my house.
I was getting divorced and didn't have much cash. I struggled to keep up the mortgage
payments but kept sending money to this animal sanctuary in Spain.
I had to hand the keys to my home back to the building society and my home was
repossessed. But I'd worked out what was most important to me. It's the dogs."
Over the years Kate has rescued over 300 dogs from the Costa Brava in
It all started ten years ago when aged 47, she thought that she
would move to Spain.
|"One dog we've just rescued had spent its life tethered
up outside a local supermarket in Tossa Del Mar without regular meals and barely
with enough water."|
|Kate, dog activist|
Her daughter was already out there - Kate is divorced and it seemed
like a good idea to join her. But something stopped her dead in her tracks.
plan was to live in Spain and work at the rescue centre. After three months I'd
had enough, I couldn't bear the scenes of cruelty everyday around me on the streets.
were just so many dogs just roaming half starved and so many ill treated."
According to Kate, the delivery drivers for the shop regularly kicked the
Other dogs are literally picked up off the streets and
taken to the sanctuary run by Michelle and Isobela.
It's a dust bowl with
a dozen pounds and 300 dogs. Conditions are hard and for large parts of the year
because of the warm climate - there's a serious tick problem.
meets Kate at the sanctuary just outside Tossa Del Mar, a hidden side of Spain
not on the tourist trail.
There she has arranged to take eight dogs back
to the South of England.
She arranges pet passports for all the animals
and loads them into the back of her van in cages.
|Man's best friend - this dog has suffered from poor treatment|
Kate knows the van is nothing special but it does the job, so long
as she takes regular breaks and sleeps in the van herself during the 900 mile
journey home to Brighton.
But on this trip there is a hitch. A vet who
has come from Switzerland to help out with the dogs and treat them for free for
a week, spots a problem with one of the dogs due to travel back with Kate.
large Rottweiller cross breed is having problems standing up. The dog has also
appeared to have damaged its spine.
It is thought that the dog has Lime's
disease and certainly can't attempt the journey before being properly treated.
Kate explains how she sees her role, "I rehome dogs now
mostly through word of mouth. I used to advertise but now I don't have to.
don't rehome to anyone with children and people whose circumstances are likely
"I used to do this just on voluntary donations but now I
ask for a £70 adoption fee per dog - this covers the vaccinations, pet passports,
petrol and the ferry crossing. But I'm always borrowing money from friends to
Kate's own needs are met simply by helping the dogs, she
says, but she spends very little on herself.
"In the sanctuary the
dogs get shelter and food but little else," she says.
Once a year Kate
holds a sponsored walk in Brighton to raise money for the sanctuary.
Kim is an ex-pat who also works at the sanctuary. She has to say
goodbye to her favourite dog Vivac who has got a new home waiting for him in Kent.
It's the big male dogs which are particularly hard to rehome.
too was shocked by the lack of care she saw on the streets of the tourist towns
of the Costa Brava.
She moved to Tossa eighteen years ago and married a
"I just had to do something. There's no equivalent of the
RSPCA in Spain and if you tell the police or the country rangers, they just don't
do anything," she explains.
|"The Spanish aren't into neutering and this is one of
the real problems. People get dogs when they're pups, then throw them out. It's
just normal in some parts of Spain."|
owner and activist|
Kim found puppies in a litter bin. She
also found a dog which had hung itself on its own chain - tied up with just one
metre to roam on.
She has found dogs kept in garages never given enough
water and thrown food at random. Kim says even more extreme cases exist than this.
and Kate also get dogs from the 'Gossero' which is Catalan for Dog Pound.
council pound seizes 700 dogs a year and gives them a ten day stay of execution.
hell on earth and picking which ones to take back to the relatively hopeful environment
of the sanctuary is like playing god.
But both women are passionate about
their work, and hope to carry on bringing the plight of these dogs to the public's
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