Friday, December 11, 2009

Publico article in English

Who killed Rasher? by Ana Cristina Pereira
I hadn’t even left for Cape Verde before I heard about dog poisoning on Santa Maria's beaches. Meanwhile, Jacquie Cozens and Neal Clayton were mourning the loss of Rasher.
Neal was making a presentation about the conservation of marine turtles when, suddenly, Rasher jumped inside the hatchery. In just a few minutes Rasher started convulsing. Neal took him to a nearby hose and tried to make him vomit. The vet just simply said that it was death by poisoning with stricnine, a very toxic substance usually used to kill rats.
Rasher was born in Ireland. He lived in Sal since 2007. He was six years old and weighted 30 kilos. When I met Jacquie and Neal in a hotel in Santa Maria, they were still overwhelmed by the pain. To them, Rasher was like a child. How do you cope with the loss of a child?
They were not the only ones. On the day that Rasher died – the 8th of October - other people went through the same experience on the same beach. Rod Smith saw his dog, Cross, die and Jenny Quin and Vernon Archer saw their dog, Foxy, die.
That week the local newspaper Expresso das Ilhas printed a story about more than 15 dogs being killed in Santa Maria beaches. What the hell was happening in Sal? That was the question on Jacquie and Neal's lips. After that, people who came to Sal didn't even know this had happened.
All over the island visitors could see dogs running about and interacting with people - strays and other not-so-stray dogs. On the the beach I was approached by some of these dogs as soon as I opened my bag to take out the sandwiches.
I heard the story from Neal and imagined how horrific it must be to find dead stiff dogs instead of lively and friendly dogs. Jacquie went further and said: "So many children on the beach! Would a child survive if it ingested the poison that killed a 30kg dog?" I wanted more information.
The deaths occurred around the Hotel Riu Funaná and on the 9th of October Jacquie and Neal went to speak to the manager of this huge hotel thinking, "The hotel had to be responsible for their guests and staff, so they should investigate what happened and who was responsible and make sure that it didn't happen again". The conversation didn't go so well.

On the 14th, the couple was received by the local mayor, who assured them that the Câmara Municipal had nothing to do with this poisoning and that the health department was also investigating the matter. Two days later they received an extract of a letter that stated that a sanitary agent from the department of health had been contacted by the Riu Funaná hotel. However, it stated that this man had placed the poisoned on his own time.
Jacquie and Neal requested an explanation from the head office of the Riu chain and received a letter with an explanation that didn't convinced them: "In a recent past we had an increase of attacks of stray/wild dogs. (...) We informed the local authorities and we asked them to take care of the security of our customers and other people. (...) We are aware of any organized poisoning, nor do we accuse any institution of doing so".
When I met them, at the end of October, Jacquie and Neal had just given the case to the local prosecutor. They really want to find the culprits and bring them to justice.
Jacquie is a marine wildlife film-maker. In 2007 she came to Sal to make a film about the marine turtles and was horrified about the quantity of dead turtles on the beach and decided to found an NGO called SOS Tartarugas to protect them. Neal also embraced the cause.
"We brought Rasher here because he it wasn’t a long flight and it seemed like a good place for him to live". After what happened they no longer want to live there.
Individual stories can determine the impressions of one place. And my impression would be really bad if I had not heard one other story hadn't happened. One poor cat with no strength in his back legs survived thanks to the care of a guest and one employee of the Oasis hotel. A Portuguese lady saw a kitten and felt sorry for it and asked a member of the staff of the hotel to keep her and take care of it while she took care of the paperwork to bring her back to Portugal. She had just flown back to come and get it. The cat "Oasis", can almost walk now.

The original can be viewed here

Article in Publico, Portuguese national newspaper

This article appeared on 6th November in the Portuguese national press (English translation below). Follow this link for the original

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why do you turn your face away?

Word reaches me that some people don't want the truth about the RIU's poisoning of dogs and cats to become known. The reason given is that people depend on the RIU for income.

To those people my questions are:

Do you realise that any negative publicity about the RIU has not been created by the fight for justice but is the direct result of the crime that has been committed? (No poison on beaches = no dead dogs = no negative publicity).

Do you want the RIU and other hotels to continue to place strychnine on public beaches where it creates a serious and possibly fatal hazard for people as well as animals? Don't you think it would be better for tourists and residents to be safe on public beaches?

Do you think that it is healthy that one hotel can do whatever they want because a handful of businesses rely on them? Is it ok for them to threaten people with lawyers in order to ensure silence?

Why do you think hotels have been able to get away with it for so long?

Did you leave your conscience at home?

It is the same thing with the mass slaughter of turtles here - so many people living here for so many years accepting the unacceptable.

What will it take for you to speak out? The death of a child?

Monday, December 7, 2009

What will the RIU do about this dog?

This dog has been hanging out on the beach outside the RIU for a few weeks now. You can see that he is calm and friendly. We have seen many people playing with him and petting him. The question is how long it will take for him to be accused of attacking and biting people, thereby justifying killing him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I can control world economy!

On forums you can say what you like and be incredibly offensive in the knowledge that you can hide behind a screen name. This man has already accused me several times of placing the poison on the beach myself in order to kill my own dog so that I could destroy the RIU hotel's business and at the same time make sure that no one comes to Sal (or something, couldn't quite follow the delusion rambling).

Now, I am flattered to find that he thinks I can control prices around the world :


Your scaremongering has worked, no-bodies going out to Sal, I hope you lot are proud of yourself. The authorities should take action against you lot for posting inaccurate information. Flights now from £120, 1 week at the RIU 340, 2 weeks, 540 all because of your posts on all the different forums you've hit. I would urge the government to take action against you lot.

As said a dog died, you lot got it into your heads it was poison, NO Poison has ever been found, in the dog or the beach, no one has been prosecuted. The only poison is that that you lot are spreading on forums. Expect a call from some government officials."

And it's not just me - it's every expat who lives on Sal that he's not happy with :

"The majority of you expats are leeches, burdens on CV, living off the backs of tourists, and property buyers. It’s amazing how quickly they turn there had to be experts at anything that comes in demand out there. Take Snagging,” giz a job” springs to mind, boys from the black stuff. I don’t know one who is qualified out there, yet they charge the same price as a qualified company does. I can guarantee if anything does go wrong, they will act like MRI and shut up shop, saying nothing to do with me.
Tell me one thing you have done for CV, that’s CV not yourself. You know who I am, I’ve said as much to your faces. "

I know I shouldn't give any publicity to this raving lunatic, but it is just too hysterically funny not to share.

You can see his full ranting nonsense at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Feeling helpless

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the hatchery - towards the end a lovely, friendly dog came along. The Rangers told me that it was one of the ones that hang around the beach all the time now. A guest told me that the hotel is taking care of him, that he comes inside and is given food. I could not convince them that that dog's life is in danger and that soon that food could be laced with strychnine. How long will it be before the hotel accuses this dog of being a killer and justifies placing poison on the beach again? Will it be done individually or will they wait until there are a few dogs? How many dogs do RIU consider 'a problem'? Barely eight weeks and more dogs are back on the beach. How clear is it then that poisoning of dogs is pointless? I am so upset about this dog and feel powerless to do anything to protect it.

A comment that I received yesterday regarding this :

"Is there anyway the Sal Animal Sanctuary can pick them up and maybe take them to someone who would rehome them ...? I feel sick that The Rui have still yet to comment on what action they will take in future or indeed admit liability - their silence just speaks volumes ........"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Still silence from RIU

Frustratingly RIU Hotels are still ignoring our requests for an honest and open discussion about their policies regarding dogs on the beach outside their hotel in Sal. Yesterday I sent a letter to Sr Guell, the owner of the group, explaining the situation and asking them to be courteous enough to reply - this time with not just a standard letter (which is still being sent out calling me "Mrs Costello").

The most pertinent question is what they intend to do about the two dogs that have taken up residence on the beach, attracted by the affection (and no doubt food as well) given them by guests.

This is no joke. The Rangers have been trying to chase them away but without any assurance from RIU locally or at head office, how do we know that these dogs won't be poisoned or otherwise 'dealt with'?