Jail sentence for refuge owner who put down “thousands” of animals

Carmen Marín, owner of the animal refuge, during the trial

The owner of an animal refuge in the Costa del Sol resort town of Torremolinos has been handed down a three-year, nine-month jail term for “indiscriminately” putting down more than 2,000 cats and dogs between 2008 and 2010.

A Malaga court this week ruled that Carmen Marín, the president of the Parque Animal de Torremolinos, took advantage of a council concession to take care of abandoned animals and instead put them down in order to make money. She has been charged specifically with mistreatment of domestic animals, falsifying official documents and the practice of a profession by an unauthorized person.

The investigating judge overseeing the case ruled that Marín, who denies the charges, personally carried out the killing of animals under her care with the help of an employee, who has been sentenced to a year in jail. Seprona, the Civil Guard’s environmental department, set the number of animals Marín had put down at 2,183. The judge said that exact number was “indeterminate” but “massive” and argued that Marín’s motive was to make money and that she had tried to expand her association’s premises to house more animals, for which she was paid. She charged €60 for putting down an adult dog, €45 for a puppy, and between €25 and €30 for a cat.

The animals were put down “without any kind of supervision” from a vet, and the drugs used (mainly Dolethal) were supplied by Marín, who has no veterinary qualifications. She was accused of using a lower dose than recommended, which would have caused the animals to suffer a “long, slow, and painful” death. The court noted that Marín’s employee held down animals while she injected them, describing this procedure as “inadequate.” The judge ruled that the accused would have been aware of the suffering they were causing by the “howls, whining and mewing” of the dogs and cats.

Furthermore, said the judge, the putting-down of the animals was not based on “any criteria to do with age or the health of the animal or because the 10-day period since they had been rescued had elapsed without a home being found for them.”

Marín reportedly presented the authorities in Torremolinos with lists of the animals that had been put down, along with a bill for their incineration. She Judge Miguel Ángel Gómez, who oversaw the case, highlighted the “commendable evolution of the law” over the last two years to protect animals in Spain, but agreed with the prosecution that the Penal Code be revised to make the crime of mistreatment more serious and to allow for heavier sentences in “extreme cases” or those that took place in centers dedicated to the protection of pets.

“Carmen Marín was the president of an animal refuge, the aim of which was supposedly the care and protection of dogs and cats,” said the magistrate, highlighting the “suffering” that pets endured before dying, as well as the “betrayal” of people who handed animals over to the refuge “in the belief that a home would be sought for them.”

The sentence is subject to appeal.

Published Tumbit 10 January 2017

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