Las Fallas are the most anticipated event of the year in Valencia. A holiday where pyrotechnics is the protagonist par excellence, in its different forms: firecrackers, castles, rockets … A combination that, as already social platforms point out, is harmful to the animals in the area. In addition, this year has brought with it a particularly delicate situation, since some mascletàs They have been located on the outskirts, in the La Fonteta area, where there are up to three groups of feline colonies registered by the Valencia City Council.
Lucia is a feeder for the cat community in the area. He tells how one day in late August he went to see them and found the entire perimeter fenced off by fences and sandbags. There he decided to contact the City Council immediately. At first he did not get an answer, but after a few days the Health Department acknowledged that nothing could be done. Anguished, she resorted to making the matter visible through social networks by the hand of the illustrator Paco Catalán, through a cartoon where she labeled the Town Hall, the Councilor for Festive Culture, Carlos Galiana, and the Councilor for Animal Welfare, Gloria Tello, from Compromís. According to Lucía, only after these publications went viral did municipal responsibilities begin to do something about. “What we have had here is a disaster, the lack of information, coordination, notification … It is a total abandonment of functions,” he says.
Unfortunately, Lucia’s efforts did not prevent the dreaded events, as all the mascletàs ended up being detonated, including the castle of the Nit del Foc last Saturday, September 4. All this despite the fact that at first Galiana announced that this year there would be no explosives. “No one was responsible for what happened to the animals that night,” explains Lucia. “When counting the cats, my partner had a nervous breakdown (…) The fire brigade had to be called because one was trapped, and they did not want to come. A puppy has also died, who went out looking for his mother, who he had fled, and someone kicked him to death. ” The feeder also says that people were throwing firecrackers in the vicinity. “The Department of Animal Welfare should have been informed of where these sites were located,” he warns.
The deadly dangers of pyrotechnics
Among the reactions to this was that of the mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, who declared before the media that “the suspension of a mascletà it cannot be conditioned on having a colony of cats. “A problematic statement, considering the different effects that pyrotechnics have on animals. Adrián Conde (@ adrianconde.vet), veterinarian and zootechnician, explains that these detonations can cause spikes of stress and unwanted movements: “Regarding feline colonies, it can be a problem that they leave their marked territories (…) They can go to other uncontrolled territories, increase the transfer of diseases, cause accidents when crossing the road or because go to dangerous places. “This unnecessary generation of stress also has harmful consequences on their health:” Feral animals, such as cats, can suffer from viruses such as immunodeficiency or feline leukemia, which are closely related to the immune system. An alteration of this by anxiety can explode a disease a priori controlled or latent “. Conde also highlights that epileptic seizures and heart attacks can be triggered. In the absence of institutional solutions, these cases require professional intervention:” It must be worked through behavioral medicine, through ethologists veterinarians, resorting to some cases to pharmacological help “, he exposes.
Raquel Aguilar, from PACMA explains that this type of situation occurs because animals “react to a noise that they do not know where it comes from, nor do they know where to go. They are in danger of being run over or, if they are in a specific place, they may try to jump to flee and hang himself with the collar, “he exposes, referring to domestic animals. As for wildlife, he explains that birds “also flee in terror”, even colliding with buildings, being able to become disoriented, run over and even end up abandoning their nests. “The mayor’s response is a great disregard for the integrity of the animals and the workers who maintain the colonies, feeding them and paying for sterilizations out of pocket,” he says. Aguilar admits that the municipal institutions have not carried out any initiative to try to preserve animal welfare, beyond “trying to capture the cats.” An option that was discarded by veterinarians and animal groups due to its low viability, due to the lack of time and adequate resources for them.
The urgency of a real change in the institutions
In all this matter, animal groups agree on one point: local animals have not been taken into consideration. On the one hand, the Department of Animal Welfare states that “there was an institutional response” as soon as they realized the situation. At first, an attempt was made to displace the celebration of the mascletàs when their location was notified, but it was too late: “The permits were granted and could not be changed,” they explain. Later, the transfer of the two closed neighborhoods of Avenida del Puerto and Avenida de la Plata, and of the open neighborhood of La Fonteta, was proposed, although as mentioned above, it was discarded. “In that enclosure Valencia Basket games are also held, so it was thought that the cats would have the same space to move as on those occasions,” declare sources from the Department. Nietzsche’s Horse has also tried to contact the Fallera Central Board, but has received no response.
On the other hand, despite the fact that Animal Welfare recognizes that “pyrotechnics have consequences for animals”, they also admit that “there is no initiative on the table of the municipal government aimed at suspending or modifying future mascletàs ” for this reason. However, this could continue to cause problems in the future. Mercedes Ortolá, a lawyer specializing in Animal Law and representing the feeders, has already filed an administrative complaint. He points out that “no protocols have been established, given that the animals suffer a lot of stress and even cardiac arrest.” “The Fallas have a lot of power, the pyrotechnics thing is an abuse. In Valencia there are not enough police to control this,” he explains.
Ortolá insists that International Law establishes, through Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the obligation of the Spanish State to “fully take into account the requirements regarding the welfare of animals as sentient beings”, and that municipal authorities are entitled to legislate for their welfare. “But Spain is in the queue, we are in the middle of a brutal legal vacuum,” he says. The administrative complaint to which El Caballo de Nietzsche has had access and which contains the purpose of demanding specific action protocols from the City Council, maintains that “the use of fireworks near animals is cruel and inhuman, as is evident from the investigations carried out on the subject, since it produces a blind panic in some animals that can lead to serious injuries, deep, debilitating fears or even death “.
The lack of actions to avoid these setbacks has placed the weight of management on animal groups and feeders, in addition to highlighting gaps in the municipal institutional framework. The also lawyer Anna Mulà, specialized in Environmental Law, affirms that the lack of knowledge about the situation of these colonies by the City Council “cannot exempt it from its responsibility.” According to Mulà, to avoid this type of event, the challenge would be in the transformation of these pyrotechnic activities through the modification of municipal ordinances in the field of noise pollution or coexistence. “An absolute coexistence between people and animals must be achieved. There is a superior interest, a legal good that supposes protection, such as coexistence, the welfare of animals, the conservation of biodiversity, human well-being, the community … It would be an attempt to find the balance of freedoms and rights, “he explains. “Right now, the use of pyrotechnics would not be justified or would marry the suffering caused to animals and some people. The mechanism of reconversion of activities is a necessary condition for their own survival.”
After the Cream which closed the Fallas last Sunday, the feeders will continue to take charge of the colonies in the area and will ensure that “this does not happen again.” Lucía, hand in hand with Ortolá and other animal rights groups, will continue trying to ensure compliance with animal rights in the face of a harsh situation that is, in reality, the tip of the iceberg of their structural invisibility.