AN expat couple have slammed police inactivity after their dog was shot dead by hunters on an evening stroll.
Jennifer and Victor Gebhardt, 67 and 78, are furious that the Guardia Civil is refusing to probe the shooting of their beloved Sombrita.
The retired South Africa couple, who have lived in Almeria for over a decade, are distraught and planning to leave Spain after the incident.
The three-year-old mastin – Spanish Mastiff – was left whimpering in pain after a hunter fired a trio of shots at them during the walk near their village of Guainos Bajos, in the Almeria province of Andalucia.
Chipped and vaccinated, Sombrita (meaning shadow in Spanish) had been running around chasing rabbits and ‘having a really fun time’.
“It had been a lovely long walk in the mountains and we were nearly home when I heard the first shot, then the second, then finally the third which hit her,” recalled Jennifer, a former teacher.
“I was calling out making sure they knew who was there, but that didn’t stop them. It could have easily been me.”
Despite being petrified and wanting to flee, Jennifer tried to identify the hunters in the dark.
“I shouted at them to come out, but they vanished obviously knowing they had killed my dog.
“It was definitely not an accident, I’m sure, because they shot with a rifle that has a scope”.
As it was too dark she was unable to find the body until the morning, when she went out with her husband, a former safari ranger in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
“We spent the next day trying to find her. It nearly took all day and I eventually managed to find her in the afternoon,” she recalls.
But what was a sad moment turned to horror when she went to report the incident to her nearest Guardia Civil police station in Adra.
“They did absolutely nothing to help… in fact they were really unsympathetic with me, they didn’t even ask for my name or address.
“This despite not being able to sleep for days and feeling terrible.”
She continued that the incident had made them decide to leave the country.
“We love Spain, but have now decided we want to go and live elsewhere. We cannot live somewhere where animal rights are not protected.”
The Olive Press contacted the local Guardia Civil in Adra, but despite confirming the case, they insisted they could not ‘investigate further as she has not provided any names’.
When pressed on how she was meant to get names of people who ran away, they refused to comment and put the phone down.
It is certainly not an isolated incident.
Jillian Chipperfield, president of nearby Berja’s animal association, told the Olive Press: “We have come across a lot of animals shot, especially cats killed for fun.
“Last year we found a dog shot on his nose for fun that broke his jaw and lost part of his tongue.
“We had another case of a woman who was walking with her dogs in a local park when the dog was shot.”
She even believes that some of the shooting is by police themselves.
“I was once told by forest rangers that if your dog is not on a lead in a natural park they are entitled to shoot it,” she claimed.
Ana Maria Bejar from the board of directors of PACMA, added that similar incidents happen frequently in many rural areas of Spain.
“Hunters think the countryside is their property and they have the freedom to do whatever they want,” said a spokesman.
“Some even insist that if walkers don’t want to get shot they should stay in the towns.”
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