EXCLUSIVE by Eloise Horsfield
AN animal shelter has been accused of picking up pets from outside their homes and then demanding money for their safe return.
Two expat cat owners in the same urbanisation in Torrox are furious after they were forced to pay 200 euros to Don Animal to get their pets back.
Pat Allcock was ordered to shell out 250 euros after her cat Bubbles was taken from near her home in Torrox Park.
After a long search she discovered that her cat had been taken by Don Animal, a company employed by the town hall to pick up abandoned or stray animals.
“I have no idea why they took her,” said Pat, 66, whose pet is chipped and entirely legal.
“I just noticed one day she wasn’t there,” said the Londoner, whose husband Roger was in hospital in Malaga at the time with a burst colon.
After a month of worry she eventually got a call from the centre miles away in Rincon de la Victoria telling her to come and pick her up.
“We were overjoyed obviously but could not believe it when they tried to charge us 250 euros for food and keep,” continued Pat.
“She was actually a bag of bones and was really traumatised. I don’t think she’d have lived another week.
“She’d been kept in a pound with two other wild cats that were eating her food.”
Eventually, after a long argument, the company agreed to let Pat have Bubbles back for just 100 euros.
“It’s taken six weeks to get her back to a normal state,” she added.
Incredibly, it has emerged that another resident of Torrox Park has also fallen victim to the cat clampers.
60-year-old Susan Baldwin was also forced to pay 100 euros after her cat Cheryl was taken.
“It was like being held to ransom,” said Susan.
“They should never have taken Cheryl and should have had a chip reader in their van.
“It is blackmail, basically.
“We have complained to the town hall but I don’t think we’ll get any money back,” she added.
When the Olive Press demanded an explanation from Don Animal, a spokesman said: “Andalucian law states no animal can be loose on the public highway without its owner and without being on a lead.
“Having a microchip is a legal obligation – it doesn’t mean animals are allowed to run free in the street.
“It’s a bit like towing away a badly-parked car,” they reasoned.
They added that they were simply following orders in picking up the cats.
“It is frankly ludicrous,” said Mary Page from ADANA, a charity for abandoned animals in Estepona.
“Of course the law doesn’t apply to cats. Who is going to put a cat on a lead? If I saw someone in the street with a cat on a lead, I’d think they’d come from a psychiatric hospital.
“I know stray cats are a big problem, but the town halls aren’t doing anything to help,” she said.
“It needs to be proactive, not reactive. It needs to work with the vets and the animal charities, and employ useful measures such as neutering.”
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