ANIMAL welfare associations in La Ribera district (Valencia Province) have issued a cry for help, as numbers of stray cats and dogs continue to spiral while volunteers are becoming increasingly thin on the ground.

There are currently rescue shelters in the towns of Alginet, Alzira, Sueca, Cullera, Carcaixent and Alcantara, but spokespeople for these centres warn that they are overrun by a surge in abandonments and unchecked reproduction.

Last year’s total lockdown due to COVID led to an increase in adoptions – partly for company, and partly to give owners an excuse to walk the dog.

But with the easing of restrictions and the arrival of the summer, spokespeople for rescue groups are reporting a spate of abandonments, especially of pregnant females.

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This is coupled with problems finding volunteers to care for the stray animals and work at the shelters, which are proving to be insufficient to deal with the situation.

Associations are also facing severe financial problems, as vet’s bills continue to mount – especially regarding severely injured dogs rescued from owners who used them for illegal fights.

As well as calls for funding, donations and help, the animal welfare charities in La Ribera have issued a joint statement urging owners to sterilise cats and to adopt pets instead of buying them from pet shops or breeders, which favours animal trafficking and often results in more abandonments when the dog or cat ceases to be ‘fashionable’.   

Mass spaying campaigns have been launched in Cullera, where the stray cat population is said to be particularly serious, while the regional government on August 6 passed a draft law increasing the protection of domestic animals with plans to build two new shelters in the Ribera area.

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Veterinary experts also call for caution when feeding stray cats. Certain products such as milk and sardines can be fatal due to intolerance and bones, and towns such as Cullera and Alzira now require residents to obtain a permit to feed strays.

Residents in the Ribera Alta and Baja are encouraged to contact their local shelter or Town Hall to see how they can help.

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