Illegal Trafficking: President of Gran Canaria “Animal Welfare” Association Investigated for Falsifying Export Certificates and Suspected Mistreatment of Animals

A rogue individual, living on Gran Canaria and operating an unlicensed and unregistered facility supposedly dedicated to animal welfare, has been referred by the Guardia Civil to the Canarian justice system for illegal trafficking and documentary falsification of certificates required for the safe transport of animals into the UK. The operation, she has run for nearly a decade, is suspected of collecting around a quarter of a million euros for this activity in just one 18 month period, keeping large numbers of unregistered animals in inadequate conditions, and illegally transporting animals from the island, without proper zoosanitary checks, across Europe by air, sea and land, destined for recipients in the United Kingdom.

  •  Between January 2021 and October 2022, the investigated Association irregularly exported 482 dogs to the United Kingdom
  •  The president of the Association falsified export certificates and presented them to the UK authorities.

On March 1, the Guardia Civil Fiscal and Border Analysis Investigation Unit (UDAIFF) and their Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) investigated the president of a Gran Canaria based Association, for continued and multiple crimes of document forgery, having falsified export certificates and submited them to the UK authorities during illegal trafficking of 482 dogs from the island of Gran Canaria to the UK between January 2021 and October 2022. The events under investigation were coordinated from an unlicensed facility in the municipality of Agüimes, on the east of the island.

Guardia Civil investigators learned of these events on November 4, 2022 as a result of a complaint filed by the Regional Coordinator of the Animal Health Service of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department of Spain’s Government Delegation in The Canary Islands, reporting that its counterpart in the United Kingdom (APHA – the Animal & Plant Health Agency) had transferred information, when it was investigating illegal trafficking and entry into the United Kingdom of dogs from the island of Gran Canaria, based on serious doubts about the authenticity of Official Certificates presented by the Association being investigated, who were able to verify that the Certificates had not been produced or processed by the Animal Health Service.

Beginning and development of the investigation

These agents, after being made aware of the evidence, proceeded to clarify that a criminal offence had in fact been committed, confirming how between January 2021 and October 2022 this rogue organisation had exported 482 dogs to the United Kingdom requesting payments from would-be adopters of around €542 each, supposedly to pay the costs of caring for the animals and their transportation.

A joint site inspection was carried out by Guardia Civil, in concert with a Veterinary Technician from the General Directorate of Livestock, at the facilities operated by the Association being investigated, in the municipality of Agüimes, during which a large number of animals were found, of various species (141 dogs, 3 pigs, 8 goats, 7 horses, 5 sheep and 30 chickens), all lacking any records of entry or exit, or indeed any of the required details of corpses collected by an authorised management company licensed for the task, as well as having no registration in the official Registry of Livestock Farms of the Canary Islands (REGAC).

The president from the Association stated that most of the dogs came from the official Bañaderos Island Shelter and from the CETAs (Temporary Animal Accommodation Centres) in the municipalities of Ingenio, Santa Lucía de Tirajana and Agüimes.

It should be noted that the agents located, during this initial inspection, the corpses of four dogs, all microchipped, half buried in the land adjacent to the Association’s facilities.

Guardia Civil investigators, in the exercise of their specific functions, carried out verification of the dogs’ EU Community Passports, and were able to verify how the stamp of the mandatory anti-rabies vaccination, in at least one of them, and a vaccine identification label had been cut from another passport, and then taped together.

EU zoosanitary regulations apply, when dealing with intra-community commercial movements of live animals, compliance with which has been established to avoid the spread of parasites, like heart worm, and potentially communicable diseases, like rabies, both to humans and to other animals, in addition to being required to come from establishments that fully comply with all current legislation, and that are properly authorised for this purpose.

This Association in no way complied with these requirements, and it is not even registered with the Canary Islands’ Registry of Livestock Farms.

In a clear attempt to evade Spanish regulations and controls, and to not declare their commercial activities with their corresponding Single Administrative Documents (DUA), the President of the Association falsified Export Certificates and presented them to the United Kingdom authorities.

Using this method, the illegal trafficking of some 482 dogs into the United Kingdom was detected during the period under investigation, and financial contributions that could be more than €265,000 are suspected to have been collected by the organisation involved.

The investigation proceedings have been delivered to the Telde Duty Courts (Las Palmas) for further examination.

Editor’s Comment: No pals but to themselves

This is not what being a friend to or helping animals looks like.

There are many legitimate individuals and organisations on Gran Canaria that make a real positive difference, and do not simply profit from illegality in this way; they stick within the existing regulations to provide real assistance where it is most needed.

The seriousness of this case should not be underestimated.  This individual, and her association involved in these particular events, poses a serious risk to both human and animal health, not just on Gran Canaria, but also for the UK. Flouting the law in pursuit of financial gain.

The revenues detected during this investigation are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg for this rogue operation, known to have various businesses on the south of the island, and who have been collecting contributions as well as a range of donations through various opaque financial gateways, with very little accountability or proper reporting.

It would not be a surprise to find that other forms of fraud and illegality have been practised and exercised over the last decade, all under the disingenuous guise of “animal welfare”.  Activity like this makes a mockery of legitimate efforts to help animals in need, while cynically ignoring the health regulations, seemingly in the name of profit and illicit gains, and all by actually putting at risk the very creatures they claim to care for, along with the wider animal and human populations.

We suspect this will not be the last we hear of this case.


The Canary – News, Views & Sunshine