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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Balearics' animal welfare record continues to be one of the worst in Spain.
Yesterday, the animal welfare organisation Fundacion Affinity reported that independent and council animal shelters across Spain last year took in 118'000 dogs and 38'700 cats which had either been lost or abandoned - an average of 17 pets per hour.

And, according to the annual report, 14 percent of those dogs, 101'000 of which were abandoned, were returned to their owners, 30 percent were adopted and 15 percent were put down for either health reasons or in accordance with the shelters' policies. The rest have remained in the care of the shelters - where permitted.

Andalusia was where the highest number of dogs were given shelter, 18'000, but here in the Balearics the figure reached 12'000 and, per capita, that is the highest in Spain.

Fundacion Affinity Director, Maria Azcargorta, said yesterday that not only were nine percent more pets abandoned last year than during 2007, a negligible percentage of pets were fitted with microchips.

She said that apart from being obligatory, the microchips also help shelters locate the owners of the lost or abandoned pets. Earlier this month, the Centro Canino animal refuge in Palma reported an increase in the number of pets being abandoned over the past six months and issued a plea for more help as the figure is expected to continue rising over the course of this year. The main reason is said to be the recession.