Ines Reitsma's Story



The poisoning of our dog Silver in the Alcoutim region in the Portuguese Algarve

1 April 2003

Dear Action Against Poisoning

In July 2002 we left Holland with our sailing boat and in October we arrived in Alcoutim, a little village at the river bank of the Rio Guadiana, the border between Spain and Portugal. We have been there twice before, 10 and 8 years ago, we had good memories of those times and we decided to stay here for the winter.

It became a quiet winter and we liked it very much. My husband and our dog Silver, a big grey 1,5 years old Pomerian made long walks in the hills almost every day. They liked it very much, nature is very beautiful here, every day you see new flowers and colours.

Silver was a great dog, he was walking freely, always nearby and he listened very good.

The fatal day came on April 1, 2003. During a walk Silver found something to eat on his path and before my husband could fetch it he swallowed it. It appeared to be poisoned and within 1,5 hours Silver died.

We ware inconsolable and our paradise became a nightmare. In the little village where my husband carried our dead dog to find a taxi he saw a few other dogs in agony and he remembered that he had seen a dead dog on the path to this village a few days before. The taxi driver confirmed the death of many dogs and he told my husband of the poisoning practice of hunters.

It seems that in the spring, just before the hunting season, the hunters lay down poison to kill the stray dogs and foxes so they cannot go at the animals they want to shoot themselves.

Some stray dogs are born wild but most are abandoned by their owners because they do not meet their expectations. But hunters do not only kill foxes and dogs, but also the storks; a few years ago all storks, parents and their youngsters suddenly died. With this poisoning they disturb the whole ecological system. It all happened in hunters territory marked by red/white signs. Although they were sympathetic with the loss of Silver we are upset with the local people who are familiar with the poisoning habit but who never warned us.

We reported the poisoning to the police, but they did not take any action as many policemen are hunters too.

The veterinarian in Alcoutim was not very helpful either as her husband is the mayor of Alcoutim and a passionate advocate of hunting.

My husband has been very annoyed with the hunters before as they move around with large groups of dogs, leaving a trail of plastic cartridges, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles etc behind.

If the authorities want to promote tourism, the backward mentality of the involved and responsible local people

has to change. This regards not only Portugal, but also Spain, where in San Lucar a few dogs were poisoned.

With this letter I want to warn everybody that it is dangerous for dogs in these hills around Alcoutim.

Although we realise that a leash would not have prevented our dog from eating poison, don't ever let your dogs loose on their own in this region!  

Of course poison is also very dangerous for little kids who put things in their mouths.

We have a serious trauma from this incident and we will never get our dog back with this story.

We hope to save your dogs and yourselves from this trouble.

Ines Reitsma