STAFF REPORTER ANIMAL refuge centres on Majorca reported yesterday that this year they have been registering a massive increase in the number of abandoned pets - so far between 6'000 and 7'000, which by the time 2008 is at an end, could conceivably double those recorded in 2007.

Elsa de Opazo, secretary for the Balearic Animal Defence League (Baldea) was speaking to the Press yesterday on the occasion of the World Day for Homeless Animals, an occasion promoted by the International Society for Animal Rights. “This year has been pretty catastrophic,” said de Opazo whose organisation amalgamates the 15 to 20 refuge centres on the island. She said that reports Baldea is receiving from its member groups suggest that abandonment figures look set to double this year.

Relating some of the circumstances under which pets end up at the refuges, de Opazo said that litters of puppies and kittens are left every day at the doors of the centres, along with six or seven-month old pets who were given as Christmas presents but as they get larger, are more expensive to feed and need exercising, are no longer wanted. Also abandoned are breeds of dogs which have gone out of fashion and no longer appeal to their owners. “Dog pounds and refuge centres are full to bursting,” said de Opazo. Conversely, she claimed that society as a whole is accepting more responsibility for animal welfare with higher numbers of cases of citizens denouncing incidences of cruelty to animals.

So far this year, Baldea has wielded before the courts damning evidence against owners who keep their animals in deplorable conditions. The association has frequently become aware of cruelty through anonymous telephone callers who want authorities to become aware of cruelty to pets and livestock that might otherwise go undetected. “Almost every day we get a call letting us know about such a situation,” said de Opazo. Such notification, she said, normally comes from neighbours who, fearful of personal involvement, leave it to Baldea to make a legal complaint. A frequent occurrence in Palma is owners leaving barely-cared-for pets shut in on terraces in the blazing sun, whilst outlying areas often witness creatures without shelter, tied up on a short rope and left in appalling physical condition.