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FORBIDDEN LIVES: Spanish police duo punished for their award-winning work against animal abuse

According to the two officers, the real reason behind the confrontation is that animal abuse is not a priority for their bosses, who urged them to focus on other crimes. The tension was such that an internal investigation was carried out.

BERTA FERRERO: When Flor Peña and Alberto Venera collected their award for good police practices in animal protection, they got a standing ovation. The gala was organized by the Animal Protection Network (REPA), an umbrella group for animal rights associations, in collaboration with the Spanish government’s Directorate General for Animal Rights, and held in Madrid on October 6. Members of the 15 award-winning teams of officers from local law enforcement, the National Police and the Civil Guard from across Spain had rolled up in uniform.

Only Flor and Alberto, two national police officers from the city of Alcalá de Henares, in Madrid’s commuter belt, accepted their award in civilian attire. It was what the pair termed the ultimate “humiliation” from their police commissioner, who had forbidden them from picking up their award in uniform, arguing that “they did not represent them.”

A week after the gala, Flor and Alberto spent more than two and a half hours in a prestigious law firm in Madrid. They are now preparing a workplace harassment lawsuit with the help of the police union Jupol. “It will be difficult to prove, but there is enough evidence to try,” says Flor.

Five months ago, the pair were taken off the streets and sent to the local court complex, where their job description consisted of taking detainees from their cells to the courtroom. They claim that only officers being disciplined are reassigned in this way.

The confrontation between these police officers and their superiors revolves around how the pair handled complaints of animal abuse. Together, Flor and Alberto have rescued up to 40 animals over two years, but, according to their superiors, in some cases, they did not follow the correct administrative procedure.

According to Flor and Alberto, the real reason behind the confrontation is that animal abuse is not a priority for their bosses, who urged them to focus on other crimes. The tension was such that an internal investigation was carried out…

Police sources, meanwhile, stress that Alberto and Flor should have focused on more important issues. “It’s the local police who are in charge of animal abuse issues, and these officers were neglecting other duties by devoting themselves to this,” said a National Police source…

But the pair deny that they failed to focus on other matters. They claim that animal abuse is included in the Penal Code and consider that any law enforcement officer must act when faced with a crime, whether that crime is theft, sexual aggression or animal abuse. This, they say, is why 50 national police officers received training in Alcalá de Henares a year ago to learn how to act when faced with reports of this nature. It was organized by the SUP union and at that time their superiors had no objection to putting it into practice…

Mati Cubillo, president of an association named Animal Justice, which is part of REPA, believes this to be correct. Cubillo explains that her association reports situations of abuse across the country and that both national and municipal police officers are equally responsible when it comes to taking action…

Once Flor and Alberto arrived at a scene of abuse, they would call the local animal shelter. Afterwards, the veterinary services would issue a report, every one of which provided proof of the abuse. “It shows that they were not wrong when they confiscated the animals,” insists Cubillo. SOURCE…

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