March for Stronger Laws to Protect Animals & Prosecute Abusers
Sunday, February 6, 2011, an animal rights protest was held in Medellin. Miro and I were send an email from an amazing woman who read about us in Gente and knew we have a deep love for animals and thought we’d like to go. She was right.
Here is an except from this wonderful email from Patricia who lives in Medellin:
Hello Lainie & Miro,
I read in the paper you are in ouy city .. I hope you have the best stay here .. there are many things to see … Jardin Botanico, Parque Explora, Pueblito Paisa, Catedral Metropolitana .. the towns surrounding like Santa Fe de Antioquia, Rionegro … you will see we have a beautiful city but you will also see the best we have is our people .. we are friendly, warm and very helpful …
I also read you wanted to have contact with animal organizations .. we are the city in our country that works the most for our animals .. in FB you can find organizations such as Corporacion Raya, Corporacion VidaAnimal, Huellas con Futuro or Organizacion Orca which by the way is organizing a meeting next Sunday Feb, 6, 9 am we are going start the reunion in the Station (Gate) Suramerciana of the subway .. the purpose is to ask for more severe laws in order to protect the animals and punish those who hurt them .. I would be great to have you with us .. I hope to be there with my husband, parents and brother.
Ok .. if you need any help just let me know …Have the best stay in our city !!Best regards,
Miro and I were so touched by this letter and felt so welcome. We did indeed take Patrica up on her invitation and arrived at the metro station on Sunday morning.
At 8:30 Miro and I boarded the metro at Poblado and set out towards the San Antonio exit. The subway was crowded especially for a Sunday morning and I was amazed to see how many people got off the subway with us to be there for the animal. Just outside the station we saw hundreds of animal lovers and concerned citizens gathering with and without their dogs to walk in solidarity for the rights of animals. Yes, we found our community in Medellin.
This protest was in response to a horrible offense that occurred a few weeks ago in the area. Two policemen were caught on film beating and torturing a street dog. The video circulated around the internet and caught the attention of the mainstream media here in Colombia. The pour of outrage for this act was heard throughout the city and eventually the two policemen were fired. The act was criminal, however the laws in Colombia are not strong enough against these sorts of defenses.
For more on the police-dog torture, here is a link to an article that has been translated into English through google translate here, and here you will find the link to the Spanish version of the article..
The Animal Rights NGO group called ORCA organized this protest and march, and dig a great job. ORCA fights for the rights of all animals including dogs, cats, birds, bulls and horses. They also assist in animal adaptions.
We spoke with an a man at the protest who explained to us that being concerned about animal rights has become in fashion in Medellin for the last two years. By the variety of people, young and old I found this fashion or trend to appeal to all walks of life. That’s a good thing.
The response to the video of the police officers beating the dog, prompted my curiosity surrounding the large presence of policemen with animals at the march. I suspected it was part public relations effort on their side and partly an official presence as with any protest or march. However, I noticed there were two kinds of officers present. The man explained to me that Colombia had a special unit which was dedicated to working with animals. In fact, all the policemen with their dogs present at the day’s protest were there in support of the firing of the two police officers that beat the animal and eventually lost their jobs.
Since my Spanish is less than fluent, I asked the man if he’d be willing to ask the nearby policeman few questions, and he agreed. The policeman said he was from the animal unit of the police force called “Carabineros” . This officer was with his working animal, a drug sniffing dog, who’s one of his regular posts was the airport.
The crowd gathered on the steps outside of the Suramericana metro station. I am horrible at estimating people, but I guessed there were somewhere around 300 people. We marched along the the main road, through a large park and then next to an large stadium, finally reaching an area where booths and speakers set up to receive the large crowds with leaflets, petitions and other information. I have been to many protests in my life, and I’d say this one was well organized and had a wonderful turnout. Miro and I were happy to have been there for the animals.