What should you do if you find an animal in distress? It’s a question that can arise at any time on Lanzarote, but at this time of year, with hunting season underway and shearwaters making their maiden flights, it’s especially important to know.
The first consideration in the case of finding a lost dog or cat is to stay safe. Try and calm the animal and don’t put yourself at risk. Then the first solution is to try and find the owner. If possible, look for a collar tag with contact details, or take the animal to a vet, who will check for a microchip free of charge. If this doesn’t work, report to local police (tel numbers on pg 87 of the magazine), as that is where owners may first seek their pet.
In the case of abandoned animals, this won’t work, but you’ll need to call the police in any case. SARA Protectora told us “If it is a stray or injured dog then the person must call the police in the municipality where the animal is, so they can activate a collection service. It is the same for cats, but only for injured cats. If a cat is lost or stray the police won’t come. The police will inform the protectoras (animal shelters) if they think it is necessary or take the animal to the local official shelter.
If injured wild animals are found, the correct procedure is to call the Cabildo’s Animal Recovery Service, which can be contacted on +34 696 733 177, or a report can be made on the emergency number 112. There are several reports of this service helping with injured turtles and the service actively advertises itself during the maiden flight season of the shearwaters.
Another option is to contact the Medioambiente (Environment Department) in your specific municipality, which can usually be done in office hours via the Ayuntamiento phone numbers on pg 87.
A SARA volunteer told us “To be honest, I’ve heard varying degrees of success with this, but this is the correct protocol, and is relatively simple.” We’ve discovered that common animals, such as pigeon chicks, are not regarded as much of a concern.
There are also Facebook pages that people can post concerns to about stray animals, etc. One of the most popular ones on Lanzarote is Mascotasperdidas en Lanzarote (Lost pets in Lanzarote).
Flight of the shearwaters
September and October is the time of year when young shearwaters (pardelas) make their maiden flights. They do this guided by the moon, and the bright lights of cars or street lamps have resulted in several birds being distracted and crashing on land, where they find it difficult to take flight again and are easy prey for cats and dogs.
Over 120 pardelas were rescued in 2020 on Fuerteventura, and, although numbers are lower on Lanzarote, dozens are still collected, treated and freed in northern Lanzarote each year.
Locals are advised to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum, look under their cars before getting in and wrap any stranded bird in a towel and put it in a covered box to be collected by the Cabildo recovery service.
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