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"When I bought an apartment in Ronda in 2001 and a house in 2003, Paul was an invaluable help in my dealings with estate agents, lawyers, at the bank and at the notary. It’s too risky to do it all without a competent interpreter. Many do, but I would strongly advise against it."
Dr J Burgess, Warrington, UK, January 2010

The Wild Wild West of Ronda PDF
Monday, 06 June 2011 23:00
 

We recently moved to our dream house in the campo to the west of Ronda. Suddenly over the last month and a half it’s turned into the Wild Wild West: barking dogs day and night; rats and smells; maltreated animals; two cars attacked and damaged; garden gates smashed; threatening behaviour and GBH; and police called out four times in as many weeks. So much for peaceful retirement!

It all started when the delinquent son of the owner of the abandoned property next to ours started keeping dogs there. They are kept in appalling conditions - chained up, without regular food and water, no exercise, full of ticks, barking and howling for long periods. One dog, a pointer or a setter, we think, looks as if it is about to die.

As well as the animal cruelty issue, there is a public hygiene issue. The garden next door is full of accumulated dog mess dating back eight years (the neighbours say the son, let’s call him José, has been keeping dogs there untended on and off for many years), pigeon droppings and there are rats. The smell is awful on a hot day.

Over the last few weeks we've tried everything but nothing happens.

We’ve spoken to the owner of the property, a Spanish friend of mine, on several occasions, but he’s been taken ill and I don’t wish to add to his problems any further at the moment, so I'm dealing with his wife.

We gained the support of the Asociación de Vecinos, who rang the Patrulla Verde. They came twice apparently, but at times when I wasn't in, and have done absolutely nothing.

We involved a neighbour who is a vet. He rang SEPRONA (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza), the arm of the guardia civil that deals with animal welfare, who eventually sent three officers after umpteen follow-up phone calls by me. They promised to contact the owners in order to gain access to the property (they have no right of entry in Spain, unlike the RSPCA in the UK and similar organisations in Germany and other western countries). We’re still waiting to see what develops.

I visited Medio Ambiente (Environmental Health) at the Town Hall who sent the Patrulla Verde again and again nothing happened. So I went a second time and they directed me to Servicio de Atención al Cliente (SAC) - Customer Services - at the Town Hall where I made a denuncia. We await some action with bated breath.

The tyranny we’ve suffered is down to José, the son of the owners, who is the one who's putting the dogs there against the wishes of his parents. He damaged my car (witnessed by a neighbour) and he and his accomplice, whom we shall call Salvador, used threatening behaviour towards us. The policia nacional were called, but arrived after the two had departed. The police urged me to do a denuncia, but I haven’t yet for reasons which will become clear in a moment.

On a second occasion when we tried to talk to José about the situation he physically attacked my stepson and his girlfriend and threatened me. I called the police who came and interviewed us and José. They again urged me to do a denuncia.

At this point we proposed a meeting with José’s mother to try to resolve things amicably. The meeting went well; she was very apologetic and sympathetic. She agreed to pay for the damage to my car and to get the money back from her son. She also promised to get the dogs removed for good and placed in good homes. Things were looking good until ...

... shortly after our meeting, my wife's car was damaged (windscreen wiper torn off) and our garden gates were kicked in and wrecked, despite being padlocked. Unfortunately there were no witnesses, but we think it's pretty obvious who it was. Despite several phone calls at the time the police failed to attend, so the following day I went to the comisaría to do a denuncia. I have to say that they were very helpful and sent two SOCOs immediately to photograph the scene and gather potential evidence.

José has denied these last two acts of criminal damage, so my insurance will have to stump up, I suppose.

There are a number of issues here, none of which are being resolved, namely:
•    the maltreatment of animals
•    criminal damage to property
•    threatening behaviour and GBH
•    public health and hygiene
•    noise pollution

We’ve sought advice from animal welfare charities and on website forums, and most say we should simply remove the animals to safety. However, it's been made quite clear to us by the police, by SEPRONA and by the vet that we would be committing a number of criminal offences if we did, including trespass and theft. Unlike in the UK and Germany it is an offence in Spain to remove animals to safety even if they are in danger.

There is also the issue of how the son and his "mates" will react, given that they've already subjected us to criminal damage, threatening behaviour and GBH.

I've held off on the personal denuncias in the hope of finding an amicable and peaceful solution, but that’s not looking promising. So, if it doesn’t sort itself out soon I’ll be off to the comisaría again to file retrospective denuncias for everything that’s happened.

In the meantime, I have developed a good relationship with the policía nacional officers on the case. They know the perpetrators well and of old and told me they would be "feeling their collars" anyway.

We're very concerned about the animal cruelty. We don't wish to break the law and we certainly don't wish to escalate the situation with José and his mates. They're described by neighbours as gente perdida - drug addicts, alcoholics and ne'er-do-wells.

As for SEPRONA , it remains to be seen what they will do. According to several websites, they are pathetic - lethargic and ineffective. Last year there were only 48 cases of animal cruelty brought in the whole of Spain! It's laughable and tragic!

However, we’ve provided photos of the distressed dogs, the excrement they have to lie in and the putrid worm-infested water they have to drink, and judging by the grim faces of the three officers who attended the scene, they definitely agree that there is a serious problem here.

José hasn’t been near the dogs in almost two weeks, so, despite advice to the contrary, we’ve continued to provide them with food and water and shall do so until the matter is resolved.

© Paul Whitelock

 

See also:

Third time lucky!

First night!

Neighbours!

What a year!

Tags:  dream house, Ronda, Wild West, barking dogs, public hygiene, Asociación de Vecinos, Patrulla Verde, Seprona, Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza, guardia civil, Medio Ambiente, Environmental Health, Servicio de Atención al Cliente, SAC, denuncia, policia nacional, comisaría, paul whitelock, www.a1-solutions-spain.com

 

Comments 

 
0 #2 2011-07-04 05:33
Hi, Fiona
Sorry we missed you.
Touch wood - things seem to have settled down.
Glad you enjoy my blog.
Paul
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0 #1 2011-06-07 11:02
Paul

We were out staying in our house in Montejaque last week and thought we might bump into you and Rita visiting Monty. Sorry to hear of all your troubles with your neighbours, I hope that you manage to resolve these issues and enjoy your new home together. By the way I noticed that you sold your home in Cheshire, my family live in Appleton, small world eh!!

I enjoy your blog, it keeps me very well up to date as to life in Ronda when I am back at my desk in the UK, keep up the good work.

Best wishes Fiona Jones
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Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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