A pilot in pursuit of a dream: to end the killing of abandoned dogs

If the story of Nacho has made you think and you also want to help this cause to change the world ACTS The day that his best friend opened the car door and

A pilot in pursuit of a dream: to end the killing of abandoned dogs

If the story of Nacho has made you think and you also want to help this cause to change the world


The day that his best friend opened the car door and invited him to go out in the middle of a road, Aston did not imagine that they were leaving. He stayed there for seven days and seven nights, waiting, with a fidelity that only a friendship unconditional is able to maintain. But his friend never returned, and, without knowing it, Aston was going to be part of the 140,000 of pets each year are abandoned in Spain.

Nacho Paunero (Madrid, 1963) has more than two decades fighting against this type of situations. Many times, the abandonment is accompanied by scenes of abuse, as in the case of Naif, a dog that appeared to be bound and with signs of having been stabbed.Both she and Aston were rescued by Nacho, president and founder of The Shelter, a non-profit association that was born in 1996, to denounce the abandonment and mistreatment, rescue and accommodate animals and looking for a new home.

Thanks to The Refuge, thousands of animals have been able to rebuild their lives together, a new family and have been saved from a wrongful death: the absence of a state regulation allows, in most of the autonomous communities, the animals that are in the street can be sacrificed within 10 days if no one claimed it. Euthanized just because no one wants to or, much worse, because someone wanted to, but one day he decided to abandon them. Not long ago, this was the case all over the country.

Put a face and give voice to the stories of abuse

“a group of people who lived in the same town, El Espinar, Segovia, he began to arise the concern to see that the animals that are caught in the street were killed. That was the solution that was given, it seemed to me terribly”, explains Nacho.

they Began to put face and voice to the stories of neglect and animal abuse that received in the protective: “you Had to communicate, because that was the only way to raise awareness and move consciences. We created the first website in which we played to the dogs in adoption, in that we were pioneers,” explains Nacho. “And that has allowed us to take a giant step forward; right now there is nobody in Spain who does not know that you can adopt a dog or a cat abandoned”. Since then, in The Refuge have experienced a lot of first times that has changed the way that companion animals are treated in Spain.

small, Nacho's parents are not allowed to have dogs. But it was Kazan, one of those great friendships that are forged in the summer and that, mythologized, remain in the memory forever. Kazan lived permanently tied up in the hotel of Santander, where Nacho used to spend his summers: “His life was to be tied to a string, and I was going every morning to share my breakfast with him. He was my friend and I was infinitely happy with him.” One summer he came back and since I was only the strap. It happens that many boys and girls meet for the first time with the death through the animals nearby.

One of the residents of The Shelter. Somos5

Perhaps from there he came to Nacho that vital need to end animal suffering. As a young man, was formed and began work as a pilot of aviation (now a flight instructor), he cultivated his passion for diving, he lived many adventures, formed a large family... But the dream that has always pursued is to liberate the abandoned dogs of the chain of sacrifice.

it was Not enough to rescue them, had to report

it Has Now that the first rescue that they did in The Refuge, 23 years ago, was that of a gauge that barked desperately from a house in ruins. Outside was the police, fire, and a lot of people. “They called Me because nobody dared to enter it,” he explains. “I remember I got it as well, in her arms, was very, very skinny, and my companions gave him the name of Nacha. Of course, as skinny as I am.”

Pulling the thread of each rescue, they realized that it was not enough to rescue and take care: the real problem was the culture of impunity that allowed some people to feel free to abandon and mistreat animals.

And began to denounce.

In 2006, came to the rescue of Baby, a poodle black who lived in an urbanisation located in Los Angeles de San Rafael, in Segovia. Before abandoning it, had been sprayed with a corrosive product, and the greater part of his body was burned. “It was the first complaint that we and the Provincial court of Segovia condemned them to their owner”.

Nacho Paunero strolling with two animals from The Shelter. Somos5

Just three years before, in November of 2003, was introduced for the first time, animal abuse (but not neglect) as a crime in the Spanish Criminal Code.

Since that first complaint, The Refuge has been involved in hundreds of criminal, civil and administrative in all of Spain for cases of animal abuse, such as that suffered by Nena. But there was need for a greater support of justice. In The Shelter were then put on the costume of negotiators and began to call to the doors of the political parties with a major campaign by the modification of the Penal Code, which was adopted in December 2010 (with the amendment of Article 337 in order to eliminate the victimization as a requirement for the existence of the abuse) and that would bring the perpetrators before the courts.

From the beginning, in The Shelter believed to be speaker of the weakest animals, they needed to be independent. Always opposed the grants. Today they have 7,000 members and a veterinary clinic that allows you to sustain the various projects and campaigns of the protective, as well as the food and the care of dogs and cats looking for a new family.

right Now, there are 140 dogs with a past complicated and hoping for a better future. That is why it is important that your present in this place of transition is full of care and affection. There are times that the new home is coming soon, but for some, the wait lengthens. Volga took 13 years to find a family: he left the protective, as an old woman, stirring the tail.

The great dream of the sacrifice of zero

Until a little over three years ago, Catalonia, with the rules of animal protection more advanced, was the only Autonomous Community which forbade the sacrifice of animals abandoned. In many other regions of Spain, the law still does include these advances.

Nacho Paunero. Clara Paolini

“The campaign of sacrifice zero started for the data”, explains Nacho. Between 2010 and 2014 were sacrificed, under the existing legislation, nearly 25,000 dogs and cats in the Community of Madrid. A lot of people don't even know that this was happening.

“we Seek to citizenship for us support and it was amazing. I often chute of energy! We needed 50,000 signatures in 90 days to be able to launch a Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP). It took a lot of work, it was very hard, many hours on the street, at night, day... everywhere. But the satisfaction that you produced to see how the people supported, there were queues to sign... That was wonderful.”

they Got more than 62,000 signatures and, in march of 2015, your ILP reached the backing of the regional Parliament, which a year later was materialized in the Law of Protection of Animals of Company of the Community of Madrid, which prohibits the exhibition of dogs in storefronts, and the slaughter of abandoned animals.

What they did. “Through campaigns, tell people about it, raise awareness, talk about the bailouts, to encourage adoption. That achievement, we already have it all, ' says Nacho, with the barking of the background of all their friends, from the warmth of this haven from where they will continue to fight to make the sacrifice zero is a reality in all of Spain.

Listen to the story of Nacho

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Only in Madrid, leaving more than 4,000 dogs and cats a year. Many were slaughtered. Nacho Paunero promoted the law that prohibits this practice. Is the president of The Refuge, the protector that offers a second chance to animals who are mistreated or abandoned.


From very small I have had attraction to and fondness for dogs and for cats. And then I approached them and, of course, my mother “no, no, no”, but I however when I saw a dog, the bigger, the more I came to see him.


once you have already focused the what I wanted to be, I tended to want to be a pilot. I dedicated myself to that, I studied, and in very little time, I walked in Iberia. And to the couple, I began to meet people interested in protecting animals.


The abandoned animals arise for several reasons. You have at best a perrillo, do not know what to do with it, give it to I do not know who and out of this came the abandonment, which at a time is irresponsible. But then there are the unwanted litters. That is to say, you have a dog, that dog has 10 puppies, 8 puppies, you don't know what to do with them, he das not know who and also out of this came the abandonment. But the abandonment tremendously big and high is the one of the dogs used for hunting. There is a lack of control for absolute and that is in all Spain.


What we saw was that the animals that are picked up from the street, killed them, sacrificed them. That was the solution that was given and it seemed to me terrible, And I say “that there is to change it”,and from there we started to work.


The Shelter is a non-profit association and what it does is to denounce the abandonment, to rescue abandoned animals and then also campaigns to try to move consciences, and that no mistreatment.


we Decided that the sacrifice zero out our flag, and thus it all began, when in all the places they offered. It is a reality that happens in all of Spain: they pick up an animal from the street, take him to a center and there slaughtered. Catalonia suddenly, pas, approved the sacrifice of zero and said, “well, what this is not going to be able to be in Madrid?”.


we Went out to the street to do an ILP, a Popular Legislative Initiative, which consists of holding 50,000 signatures in a 90-day period. And what we have achieved, what we have stopped. Now you must stop it in all other communities. That's also what we're going to get.


The fundamental objective is the adoption. There are rescue animals and they have to be adopted. Right now we have around 140 dogs here. And another very important thing, which can't be put in showcases animals for sale. Behind this showcase there is a theatre of horror.


In these 23 years we have rescued from abandonment of thousands of dogs and when you get that you adopt, then you will shed tears.


I need all to combat this great problem which is the neglect and mistreatment of animals, and that is a problem of all society, and that from The Shelter we are trying to solve, little by little but with giant steps.

This content has been developed by Yoigo.

Updated Date: 13 January 2020, 12:00



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