AN animal shelter on Spain’s Costa del Sol has been forced to close for ‘making too much noise’. 

A volunteer feeding dogs. Photo: El Refugio de Leo/Facebook

It comes after neighbours complained about the dogs barking at the shelter between Velez-Malaga and Arenas.

Lourdes Peláez, opened El Refugio de Leo in 2016 and it quickly became popular with expats in the area. 

Based in Cerro de Beas, the dog shelter has now been ordered to cease activity by a local judge.

According to the Junta, the closure is due to a lack of appropriate permissions such as ‘declaration as a zoo facility’. 

The Provincial Court backed up a judgement from Malaga’s criminal court, forcing the shelter to shut down. 

The case arose after three neighbours made complaints about noise coming from the rural shelter, located some 6km away from any populated town. 

In an interview with Diario Sur, animal lover Pelaez said: “They’re throwing us out because of the noise, they’ve judged us wrongly.

“It’s been seven years of fighting with neighbours, who aren’t even here legally but have built illegal houses.” 

Labrador puppies Photo: El Refugio de Leo/Facebook

The shelter is now ‘desperately’ looking for new accommodation for their 40 dogs, but according to Pelaez, ‘they are all full’. 

Over the last seven years, the shelter has saved on average 180 dogs and cats each year, many of which were adopted by expats. 

According to Pelaez, the judge has acted ‘unfairly’, considering the feelings of the neighbours over noise laws, which she claims are non-existent in Arenas. 

She also claims the ‘evil’ neighbours came to the shelter to ‘stir up’ the dogs so that they would make more noise. 

However, she says the shelter won’t go down without a fight: “I am not going to allow them to destroy animal rescue or treat us like criminals, that is what they are doing.”

She has also urged the local council to consider the recent Ley de Bienestar Animal (Animal Welfare Law). 

Pelaez claims that the council’s response to her pleas has been to tell her there are ‘enough’ sanctuaries in the area. 

It is evident, she claims, that animal protection laws do nothing if the judges themselves ‘are lacking in heart’.

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