On the 19th of December, I was very much looking forward to roaming the streets of beautiful Barcelona with my friends but it was clear that something was amiss as soon as we stepped foot outside Barcelona Airport.
At first, we thought it was simply traffic that was blocking our way to the hotel near Catalonia Plaza. However, we were soon told that what was causing the delay were in fact protests.
Nearly 200 citizens had gathered outside Barcelona City Hall to support PACMA, the animal rights party, which demanded Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau to investigate the facts of the case of Sota.
But who is Sota and what had happened to her in order to cause such massive outrage?
At the area where Gran Vía meets Plaça de Espanya, in the neighborhood of Sants, Sota the mixed-breed female dog was shot dead by a police officer who claims to have done so in self-defense.
According to the police version of events, two officers walked up to Sota’s owner, a street vendor reported as homeless, to inform him that his dog should be restrained to comply with city laws. He apparently “took a confrontational attitude” and refused to tie Sota up.
At this point the eyewitnesses gave varying accounts with some confirming the police’s report that Sota attacked one of the officers and bit his hand, and others claiming that she simply got nervous for her friend and started to bark “without biting anyone“.
“That was when one of the officers took out an extendable baton and threatened the dog’s owner, and the other officer took out his gun and shot the dog in the head.” says Carlos, one of the eyewitnesses.
What followed is what everyone at the scene confirm: Sota’s owner took his skateboard after seeing his beloved friend drowning I blood and hit the policeman with it on the head, breaking one of his teeth.
The owner was then restrained and charged with the assault of a police officer.
I wasn’t really caught up with all the details then nor did I pick a side to believe, but I did find myself alongside a couple of friends near Sota’s memorial at the Gothic Quarters and we decided to pay our respects as well.
See all this made me remember our own dilemma with animals that live without shelter, animals that roam our streets here in Egypt and face the threat of being beaten, poisoned or killed every day. I thought of the thousands of dogs like Sota that don’t have a voice, thousands that risk being exported in order to be killed mercilessly then eaten.
Why weren’t we on the streets for them? Why can’t we do anything to help?
How did one dog make three hundred rise and protest in Spain and yet the lives of thousands of dogs suffering here created nothing but empty words in long social media posts?
I’m not sure, and maybe I do know but I’d rather stay ignorant. It’s all the same.
To Sota, and the millions of dogs all over, thank you for your love and devotion.
And from the bottom of our hearts, I apologize for all the mistreatment you suffer and the horrors you face.