jueves, 19 de marzo de 2009

Thriller in the “Vallés Oriental”

We started planning due to a phone call reporting a herd of malnourished horses abandoned to their luck in an industrial complex in a small town in the “Vallés Oriental”. The very next day we got on our way along with María. As soon as we arrived we saw a man with a balaclava standing up the dirt track. We nervously approached him and the tension grew when we checked his identity: it was the supposed culprit. A mare had been reported dead in an area where more horses roamed. The neighbors were afraid they would be exposed to infections because of this, as the carcass had been there for several days.

The informer brought a ladder from his house a few hundred yards away in order for us to check what was happening inside the warehouse, that happen to be like a soiled-floor house. We had to walk through the neighbor’s land until we reached the back wall of the warehouse, which was next to a leafy ledge. We then leaned the ladder on one of the fork-shaped trees and climbed on to the window.

I must admit we were both afraid. I couldn’t tell if we were more than terrorized. We had already seized a few animals to the same guy a year ago, and it could all be an act of revenge. I was picturing that some more people would show up and push us down the ledge. Too many crime books read were making me think that we would never be found again!

In the end nothing of this happened. We managed to jump into the house through the window without excessive problems, and we started taking the much-needed snapshots of the dark, humid and filled-with-junk premises that would allow us to sue and carry on with the quick seizure.

We found a starving and skinny bunch of horses, ponies and donkeys tied to the wall in a dirty room, surrounded by empty bathtubs, with no water available to quench their thirst.

Soon enough we found a few colts and mares in good condition in a bigger room with no daylight. They might have been there not long enough to suffer the consequences of abandonment.

In the final room we did find the dead mare. She had died a week before. However, the worst of all was not the rotten body but the fact that it was sharing space with another mare, which had not long ago given birth. The animal was with a limp due to an infection of the rear hooves. She had been left to die with no water or food. So why bother to cure her, the culprit must have thought.

The baby had been removed from the mother and placed along with other ponies, and was therefore unable to be breastfed. Evidently the Authorities were not going to believe that the pictures were taken from the outside of the building. But that was not a problem at all bearing in mind the deplorable conditions of the animals, which had not seen the daylight for 8-9 months.

We jumped out of the warehouse as soon as we had finished our task. We had quickly accomplished it. Fortunately we had not met the guy, as he might have reacted angrily and violently when realising of our purpose of being there.

Three days later we got the thumbs up and we proceeded to carry with the seizure along with the Mossos d’Esquadra and the local police and members of the town hall. A national TV reporter recorded it all.

We rescued eleven animals. There were horses, mares and a 2-months mule among them. They ran in stampede out to the light after a few months in total darkness, as they had only had a few holes on the wall through which a bit of air and light would come into the rooms.

Once there they found Pere’s van ready to transport them.

In the shelter:

We got to the shelter and they ran in stampede once more towards the frozen waters of the stream. It had snowed the previous night. They eventually turned to the left and preferred to roam peacefully and start eating hay.

However, the mare with the infection had to have the hooves drastically clipped three times in order for her to recover from it. And the baby had to be breastfed so she could grow strong and healthy. Now they both live with a dedicated family with three children.

The happy ending to the story is that of most of the animals being adopted rather sooner than later.

One of them: "Lucero" freedom from fear