In the animal rescue world, a lot of precautions are taken to ensure the safety of animals that are adopted. In most cases, this means a home check and a signed adoption contract, at the very least (although when I adopted Minino, they just put him in a carrier, taped it up and sent him down to me by courier, and I shudder to think what could have happened to him, but that’s another story entirely). Many Spanish rescues send a lot of animals, particularly dogs, to homes in northern Europe because of potential problems with adopters in Spain. Some rescues won’t let their animals go to Spanish owners at all due to the reputation the Spanish have for treating their animals poorly, and some won’t even allow foreigners living in Spain to adopt because they have a reputation for going back “home” and leaving their adopted animals behind.
Last Chance Animal Rescue is based close to me, and their focus is on rescuing dogs that are placed in the local pound. Spanish pounds (or perreras) are often known as killing stations for the number of animals that die there, but our nearest pound is actually better than most, thanks to the efforts of Jacqui Ross and her team of volunteer helpers at LCAR. They send a lot of dogs directly to new owners in the UK, but also work with rescues in other countries to place dogs. One of the countries LCAR dogs are placed in is Finland.
A couple of days ago, Jacqui received the devastating news that a dog LCAR sent to Finland had been euthanised by its adopter, apparently as a result of “snapping at a child.” Another dog that was adopted by the same people from a different rescue was also euthanised at the same time. The rescuers in Finland who arranged the adoptions were obviously devastated, especially when the contract explicitly states that the first place to contact if there are any problems is the rescue. Jacqui was devastated, and the people who had fostered for the LCAR dog, Twinkle, were also devastated.
You have to wonder how such a thing could be allowed to happen, and LCAR acted quickly in an effort to put new measures in place that would prevent such a thing happening again. But it seems to be impossible.
Despite Finland being a First World country, there is apparently no way these dogs could have been protected under law. If a person takes an animal they own to the vet to be euthanized, the vet is required by law to comply with their wishes. If a person decides to disregard the adoption contract that states the rescue must be contacted first in case of problems with the animal, the rescue has no legal grounds for complaint. Animals have no protection. Owners can do what they like.
The furore on social media has brought to light evidence that the adopters have previously had dogs euthanised. Apparently, they are planning to adopt a child. If I were a member of the adoption panel, I would be very concerned at their apparent disregard for life.
The fact of the matter is that these two dogs are gone, and nothing can be done to bring them back. It also appears that nothing can be done to protect dogs that are sent to Finland in future. Rescue is a frustrating and often soul-destroying effort.