Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

The Pets in Spain Charity

Por: | 01 de septiembre de 2014

'Pets in Spain' is a British animal rescue and re-homing charity based in San Fulgencio on the Costa Blanca, Spain. The non-profit organisation has a governing committee of nine members, a total membership of 63, while staffed by 130 volunteers. The vast majority of animals rescued by the group come from the Costa Blanca and Murcia regions. The charity collaborates with other organisations and individuals throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Pets in Spain also work alongside an organisation called, 'Veterpet Clínicas Veterinarias' (Trans. Veterpet Veterinary Clinics) to find new homes for stray and abandoned animals.

Lesley - Pets in Spain Web
Lesley (Pets in Spain Volunteer) with Patch the dog.

The charity believes that innocent creatures are falling through the cracks in the system. This might be due to either the increasing amount of stray and abandoned animals on the streets that the system cannot manage, or possibly due to negligence on the part of the local authority, if not the sum of both parts.

I met Mark Lewis (secretary of Pets in Spain) throughout June and July 2014, to document the charity's activities and investigate the current situation in regards to animal welfare on the Costa Blanca. He introduced me to charity shop staff, animal foster carers, adopters and a whole assembly of benevolent creatures. I also met veterinary physicians at the Veterpet animal hospital during August 2014 in the town of Guardamar del Segura and documented their collaborative work with Pets in Spain. Their joint work is explained on my slideshow, featured at the end of this article.

When, I discussed animal welfare issues among carers involved with Pets in Spain, one particular name arose. The name that emerged belongs to a private animal collection company called, 'Cereco S.L.'. Since, June 2011, Cereco S.L. has been contracted by San Fulgencio's current Partido Popular (PP) led coalition council to provide a stray animal collection service within the municipality. The aforementioned firm has woefully become the fly in the ointment, in the eyes of the animal welfare community in the local region. Although, Mark Lewis has conceded that the Cereco S.L. adoption initiative, endeavour to provide a good service, he feels the company's animal collection centre in Crevillente is an altogether different beast.

Pets in Spain - Pascalle's Son Web
A boy with his ferrets at a Pets in Spain foster home.

San Fulgencio's council has agreed upon a profitable business arrangement with Cereco S.L.. The company is paid per animal collected from the streets by the town hall. Mark Lewis said, "The contract is for €12,000 per annum, depending on the number of strays they (Cereco S.L.) collect. The more they collect the more the council has to pay. Once, they (the stray animals) are collected, the council then forgets about them. They're (the council) not interested in any follow-up or what happens to them (the stray animals)."

It shall remain a contentious issue; whether a local authority via a private company, discounts itself from providing adequate follow-up care for animals in their possession. If the council is thoughtless, does it become conveniently effortless for it to feel above reproach? The effects of indifference can be far worse than hatred itself. In some cases, it can result in the wholesale slaughter of countless innocent animals.

Mark told me that Cereco S.L., before destroying these strays; rarely coordinate their efforts with local animal welfare charities, associations or organisations in regards to finding new homes for these potential pets. He believes that Cereco S.L. soldiers on, without seeking a viable and acceptable end result for the animals.

After, being collected off the streets, the animals are transported in vans to the Cereco S.L. collection centre located in the town of Crevillente. Mark Lewis said, "One day each week at the collection centre in Crevillente, they close all the heavy doors to the public, usually on a Friday, to kill dogs and cats collected during the previous week, to make space for the next week's consignment. The in-house incinerator is fired up to immediately destroy the corpses and any evidence of previous owners. The Cereco statistics (death toll) are never made public."

Pascale Web
Pascale (Pets in Spain foster carer) with Zack the dog.

Cereco S.L. claims on their official website that they collaborate with a German animal welfare organisation, which can be found at this address - However, Mark said, " ...If you go to this page (webpage) and translate it, you will see that they do not mention collaboration with Cereco, in fact they condemn killing stations and the photo they have on the page, wait for it, was taken by me years ago... The German site must have lifted it (Mark's photo) from an English online article years ago condemning Cereco! I cannot see any Cereco dogs for adoption on the German site."

Mark Lewis believes that not only do animals die in the Cereco S.L. collection centre, but sometimes while being transported to Crevillente in the company's vans. He said, "La Marina urbanisation resident (Jose Serrano Gonzales) is just one of the many people that have denounced Cereco after his dog escaped from his garden in La Marina Urbanisation." I recorded Mark, who described how Señor Gonzales's pet had suffered, when seized by Cereco S.L. on that fateful day. Please listen to his short audio story featured below:

The Pukas Audio Story

Pets in Spain - Casa Pukas Web
A pet owner's sign commemorates the untimely death of Pukas the dog, who died in a Cereco S.L. company van.

Since, its launch in 2004, Pets in Spain have found homes for approximately 30 animals per month. It has a roster of temporary foster homes for pets in need as well as individuals who permanently adopt animals. Its work is endless and the organisation is always seeking donations at its charity shop. The group constantly advertises for more foster carers as well as other volunteers to add to their ranks. It has a strong presence on social media and constantly updates followers on its rescue activities and animals offered-up for adoption.

'Fundación Affinity' (Trans. The Affinity Foundation) is a Spanish non-profit organisation that promotes the positive role played by pets in society. The foundation stated in a recent study, commissioned by an online pet shop called 'Kiwoko', that one pet is abandoned every three minutes on the Iberian Peninsula. Consequently, the grand total of 150,000 animals are cast aside every year in Spain, which represents the highest number of domestic creatures abandoned in any European nation.

Fundación Affinity believes that the economic crisis has played a major role in 15% of these abandonments, where pet owners have underestimated the costs of keeping an animal and veterinary bills. The heavy number of abandoned pets has left animal shelters and local authorities overwhelmed. Hence, we may presume from these statistics that Cereco S.L. might be struggling to cope with the high levels of animals left on the streets. Nonetheless, Cereco S.L. has little reason to be prideful of its soldiering, when I'm told of their insufficient 'self-reliance'; because that might best describe a stubborn masochist at the helm, where the company is bound to not prosper on moral and ethical grounds.

Why has it not dawned upon Cereco S.L. to network regularly with animal welfare organisations and the local authorities to tackle problems that may ensue, which otherwise are insurmountable, when dealt with alone? Is red tape and tight budgets at the town hall imposing a death sentence on many helpless animals?

Rufus Rescue - Pets in Spain Web
Mark Lewis (Secretary of Pets in Spain), while rescuing an abandoned puppy.

Pets in Spain supports the belief that animals who are victims of neglect, abuse, or abandonment must not also be victims of bureaucracy. Furthermore, educated citizens with a good moral compass should support that belief and voice their opinion. It would be pertinent to say, “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” -- Immanuel Kant.

Personally, before we can judge the heart of Cereco S.L., I would offer to help them respond to how the animal welfare community in San Fulgencio has portrayed them, because the lines of communication in such matters of life and death should remain open and transparent. In this particular instance, those channels presently remain silent, between Cereco S.L. and animal carers like Mark Lewis. Communication is one of the vital keys that may unlock those heavy doors, before the in-house incinerator is fired-up, again and again.

The audio slideshow is best viewed in Full Screen Mode:

By Paul Louis Archer: Paul Louis Archer Photography

If you want to help by donating to 'Pets in Spain', the charity's PayPal account can be found via this email address: [email protected]. Alternatively, you can visit their website for other ways to donate.

The services offered by Veterpet Veterinary Clinics, including a pet shop, can be viewed by visiting their website:

The services offered by the Cereco S.L. adoption initiative, can be viewed by visiting their website:


Hay 6 Comentarios

Thanks for your comment, Elaine. It's always interesting to discover my readers' opinions. Wishing you well - Paul

This is just typical of all the local councils in Spain. The easiest way for them to handle the strays is to get them taken away and just forget about them. They let Cereco do their dirty work and pretend that their hands are clean! I really hope that these greedy uncaring local councillors are brought before the national authorities to account for their heartless actions!

Hello Gerard. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad that my story has somewhat enlightened you on the present situation regarding animals in Spain. Best wishes - Paul

I did not realise that there is no organisation like the RSPCA in Spain. Well done all these volunteers for helping the abandoned animals.

Hello Sandra. Agreed, I was impressed by the dedication shown, during my two months shadowing Mark and his family. Thanks for your comment.

I know Mark and his family, all three of them put in many hours every day and it's been the same for many years I have always been astounded by their dedication and commitment to animal rescue and rehoming. Really good to see them get the recognition they deserve.

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:


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