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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The dogs on death row in paradise: One English woman's battle to take on a holiday island which cruelly kills thousands of pet dogs a year

-More than 20,000 pet and stray dogs are brutally slayed annually in Mauritius -Undercover investigation after alarm raised by the British-based charity -Up to 80 per cent are much-loved pets snatched from doorsteps -Pound can only be described as a concentration camp for dogs By Jane Fryer and Allan Hall Squalid: A dog jumps up looking for its owner. He is on death row at the dog pound in Port Louis, Mauritius. Eighty per cent of the dogs caught and killed are pet dogs not strays The dog is flat on his back, trussed up with a rough rope, his paws scrabbling frantically in the air as a man in a red baseball cap rams a needle deep into his heart. There is one last desperate struggle then a monstrous howl that rips through the muggy tropical morning, startling nearby market traders and silencing the birds. When the howl splutters into a whimper, the dog is dragged and kicked into a kennel to die alongside three others. It is a slow and painful death, the result of a botched lethal injection by a canine-killing squad. And it takes place in the so-called tropical paradise of Mauritius — the palm-fringed holiday destination of more than 200,000 Britons each year. Away from the white, gleaming beaches — where the sea is impossibly blue and tourists sip cocktails while lazing on luxury sunbeds — more than 20,000 pet and stray dogs are slayed annually in this sickening way. These horrific images of the slaughter were taken during an undercover investigation by the Mail after the alarm was raised by the British-based charity International Animal Rescue. The Mauritian government claims it is a humane way of controlling the island’s stray dog population, but it is neither humane nor honest. Cruel: An MSPCA dog catcher nets a dog before throwing it into the van where it will be taken off to the pound Death sentence: When it arrives at the pound the dog has three days before it is thrown into a mass grave at the grave yard in Port Louis Some of the animals are strays but many more — up to 80 per cent — are much-loved pets that have been snatched from their doorsteps, with collars and security tags clearly marking their addresses. They are captured as part of a ‘clean-up’ campaign, despite pleas from animal welfare organisations across the world. And they are killed by an organisation with a name so ironic it would be laughable it wasn’t true — the Mauritian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Kitted out in jaunty red caps and wielding giant fishing nets, MSPCA dog-catchers snatch animals wherever they see them — sleeping on street corners, lingering in alleys or lazing on their own doorsteps. They are scooped up and hurled into cages in the back of roasting-hot vans where they remain — often bleeding and with broken bones — while the officers continue their rounds. Caged: MSPCA personnel march around in heavy boots, brandishing sharp metal rods to punish disobedient animals. In the filthy concrete cages, most of the dogs shrink to the back, shivering and terrified Their destination is a pound that can only be described as a concentration camp for dogs. MSPCA personnel march around in heavy boots, brandishing sharp metal rods to punish disobedient animals. In the filthy concrete cages, most of the dogs shrink to the back, shivering and terrified. Others edge forward, hopeful and trusting, unable to understand their predicament. The worst corner is the puppy cage — rusty, squalid with faeces, and utterly desolate. Only animals with owners have any hope, and even then it is slim. If residents suspect their pet has been snatched by the MSPCA, they can come to the pound and pay a ransom to rescue it. But the charge is £30, which is beyond the reach of most people, as the average worker earns less than £60 a month. Nearly all the dogs spend three days in the cages before a lethal injection and a slow, painful death. The still-warm bodies are hurled into a mass open grave in a stretch of wasteland. Clumps of fur, tails and ears are visible in the red soil. Skulls and bones create splashes of white. The MSPCA insists only stray dogs are exterminated but this is a lie. The truth is that the organisation has a quota of more than 100 stray dogs to capture every day in a bid to reduce the island’s estimated 200,000 population. Helpless: The worst corner is the puppy cage - rusty, squalid with faeces, and utterly desolate. Only animals with owners have any hope, and even then it is slim And officers will happily take pets to achieve this figure. British woman Alicia Browne can testify to this, after her two dogs were snatched while she was walking them. Alicia, who is staying in Mauritius for nine months to visit a friend, adopted two stray dogs — whom she called Mira and Wanda — on the waterfront near Riv du Rempart in the north-east. She recalls: ‘I was with them on the beach in December, throwing sticks, just having a nice day, when these two guys ran down with their nets and threw them over Mira and Wanda. ‘I screamed, “What are you doing! These are my dogs!” Mira and Wanda could not have been more than 4ft away from me. But one of the dog-catchers said I was breaking the law: because they weren’t on a leash, they were strays, and that was that.’ Alicia, from Redhill, Surrey, adds: ‘I was in tears and ran after them and saw them dumped in the van like trash. Mira’s leg was cut — you can see the scars and she has a limp now. ‘I followed the van in my car for the rest of the morning while the men scooped up pet after pet then went to the pound where they were unloaded. ‘I had to pay to get my dogs back. Wanda will never be the same again — she was severely traumatised by the experience.’ Jacqueline Woodridge, a British expat living in Mauritius, lost her pet dog in January and went to the Port Louis MSPCA compound to try to find him. Lucky ones: Alicia Browne (35) from Redhill Surrey with her two dogs Wanda (left) and Mira (right) who she saved from the dog pound after the dog catchers snatched her pets from the beach. Her search was unsuccessful — and shocking. She said: ‘What I saw was horrific. There were so many beautiful dogs, many, many with collars, including puppies, squeezed into dirty kennel chambers covered with urine and faeces. ‘They were trembling, whining, and terrified. There was just one bowl of bread and water in each kennel.’ While the population of strays is undoubtedly large and growing, the dogs are not dangerous: there is no rabies on Mauritius, and the strays shun human contact. Local and international vets agree that sterilisation would stem the problem — indeed, three years ago French actress Brigitte Bardot offered to pay for a mass sterilisation for all the island’s strays. But the government will not consider it. Yesterday, phone calls to the MSPCA were not returned. German vet Birgit Wellmann, who had to rescue her own dog from a pound, said: Sterilisation is the way forward but no one will listen. It is heartbreaking.’ She claims people on the island won’t criticise the MSPCA for fear of veiled retribution. Foreigners worry about losing residency and work permits, and locals are vulnerable to arrest if they defame the government. Authorities say the strays are an eyesore and jeopardise the lucrative tourism trade. But as one European vet who used to work on the island points out: ‘For most tourists, these dogs are less dangerous than sunburn.’ source:dailymail


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