The Government of Murcia approved two weeks ago a decree that opens the door to the capture of "feral domestic" dogs and cats, a term that has attracted criticism in the animal environment due to the ambiguity of the classification. According to sources from the Ministry of Livestock on the new regulations, "feral dogs constitute a health, economic and safety problem, but above all, of animal welfare."
The administration considers it "essential" to control these animal populations to avoid zoonotic diseases such as rabies, "without causing unnecessary suffering." An explanation that has not satisfied animal platforms such as PACMA: "It seems nonsense, in the end what we understand is that they give hunters wide sleeves, and that a custom decree has been made so that hunters can continue hunting capturing and killing animals ".
The decree describes a series of conditions that must be met to consider that an animal can be captured: that it does not wear a collar, that it shows a degree of dependence and behavior towards the human being, that it feeds on garbage and game, samples of aggressiveness when caught, being active at dusk and going in "well defined" groups. The Ministry adds that in the event that feral cats and dogs are captured "they will have to be transferred alive and with the least possible damage to the corresponding Municipal Service so that they can verify their possible identification and carry out their appropriate treatment based on to the law ". From PACMA they regret the lack of specificity in the decree when it comes to catching the animals and fear that once they have reached the municipal offices, they will be euthanized.
Animal legal sources indicate that "it has not been published on the basis of which report the regulations have been rewritten, in addition to the fact that the Animal Protection Law that regulates feline colonies has not been taken into account."
Bait loop and trap boxes for hunting
Another point that has caused confusion is that of hunting. The decree details that the included methods of hunting and capturing dogs and cats are those that have passed "exhaustive tests" that measure the level of damage caused to the captured animals. Among these methods we would find, for example, the 'bait loop' and 'trap boxes'. PACMA states that "there are totally painless capture methods, so that the animals do not suffer any harm" and adds that the 'bait ties' are "prohibited in the majority of autonomous communities and cause physical damage and suffering" concluding that it is "a terrible act and a return to the past in the Region of Murcia ".
The term 'feral' has also been the victim of conflict and criticism among animal rights defenders. Specialized judicial sources assure that a feral cat is one that has not had contact with man for generations, adding that "this terminology is not adequate, because the Community refers to lost or abandoned cats and dogs." Meanwhile, the animalistic party defends that "a euphemism such as 'feral' is being used, which gives people a feeling of a certain fear, making people think that they are rather wild animals and causing this type of measure to be better accepted" .