In an annual event organised around Christmas by the Spanish animal protection group El Refugio for the last ten years, dog lovers embarked on a dog walk in Madrid, Spain, to highlight the problems of animal abandonment. The SanPerrestre walk took place on 30th December 2022 to remind people that dogs are not just for Christmas. In Spain alone, around 100,000 dogs and 30,000 cats are abandoned every year.

One participant said: “This is the third time we have come to support El Refugio and we are very happy to support especially the dogs that need a home.” Another dog walker said: “We were in Toledo, in the car, and suddenly we saw a brown thing in the field and we wondered what it was, and suddenly we realised it was a dog. It was abandoned.”

The Refugio, a Spanish shelter specialized in helping abandoned and/or mistreated dogs and cats since 1996, wrote on their website the following after the event: “Yesterday we returned home with a heart full of love, and with the emotion of having spent the morning together with so many committed people, who wanted to take action against the abandonment of animals. To all, our unconditional love and our infinite gratitude. Those of us who make up the El Refugio team wish you to say goodbye to the year with great joy and that 2023 will allow us to enjoy the good things in life with our little ones, which are many.”

The good news is that, in Spain, 10% of the population now consider themselves flexitarians, vegetarians, or vegans. Therefore, the country has seen a big increase of plant-based brands and businesses ready to serve the growing demand. The more vegans there are, the fewer companion animals will be abandoned.

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“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.