An objective of the animal protection centre at Son Reus is to not have to put down any dogs. Pedro Morell, the director for the past twenty years, says that the number of dogs which are put to sleep is more or less zero. This represents a notable decrease. In 2013, 132 dogs were put down. This fell to 72 in 2014, to 52 in 2015 and then to seven in 2016. There was a small increase to nine last year, while this year there has been only one so far.
The centre takes in an average of 2,500 dogs each year. Euthanasia of healthy dogs has only been practised because they have not been adopted. Sick animals which need to be put down are not included in the figures. The dramatic decrease in healthy dog euthanasia is attributable to fewer dogs being abandoned, more dogs being reclaimed by owners (assisted by improved chipping) and to more adoption. Morell explains that the number of adoptions in the first quarter of this year rose by eight per cent compared with the same quarter in 2017. Another factor is that only dogs from Palma are now taken in by the centre. Until 2012 there used to be dogs from across the island.
Morell acknowledges that euthanasia of healthy dogs is normally always because they are classified as being potentially dangerous. Joan Rigo from Palma town hall's animal welfare department says that these dogs are the most difficult to place for adoption. The stigma attached to them is not always justified, he adds, and there is a further obstacle to adoption - owners need a specific licence to keep potentially dangerous dogs.
Son Reus can accommodate one hundred dogs; there are currently eighty. The law states that an animal has to be kept for a minimum of 21 days in a centre. One dog, a potentially dangerous one, has been at Son Reus for almost half a year.