The Police, A Suicide & Dogs

This is a follow-up to our Maro Suicide article that we published on the 26th of April - nobody else did one at the time about it nor after that date, it seems.

AXA NRJ Maro Turning for Playa ChicaThis is about Gaby, who hanged himself after the Nerja Policía Local confiscated his dogs; they took away five and when they came back for the rest, later that same day, they found him hanging by his neck – the other dogs had run off.

Gaby Nocquad was a Frenchman in his early 40s from Ambérieu-en-Bugey, who had gone to university and obtained his degree. About 15 years ago he had moved to the south of Spain (Maro) where he lived a simple, solitary life, experimenting with the cultivation of subtropical fruit varieties – his father is a retired farmer in the east of France, not far from the Swiss border.

I have interviewed his friends by phone (Eric/Debbie & Marcos) all of whom said that he was a nice guy who cared more about his dogs than he did for himself – he put them first as a priority, they say.

So why did the municipal police turn up by themselves to take his Belgian Shepherd dogs away? I interviewed the Councillor for Citizen Safety, Francisco Enrique Arce Fernández, who said somebody had complained that they had been attacked by one of his dogs. The councillor said that some of the dogs had chips, others did not and that it had not been the first complaint received about Gaby’s dogs.

I asked him whether it was normal practice for the police to simply turn up and confiscate animals if there was no animal cruelty involved nor a case of a dog having savaged somebody so badly that they needed to be hospitalised. He said that they had contacted an animal shelter in Rincón de La Victoria to say that they were bringing in nearly a dozen dogs.

Councillor Arce Fernández said that when the police arrived the first time to take the dogs away, one of them nipped at the trouser leg of one of the officers; they were aggressive. When an animal sees that its owner is distraught and strangers are in a space where they live, it is quite normal for a dog to become nervous or even aggressive, especially if they feel that the owner is in danger.

This animal shelter, Don Animal, said the councillor, is the go-to association for the area, even though there is an animal shelter in Nerja, the APAA.  Strays are rounded up from surrounding villages in the area without kennel facilities and left at Don Animal. After ten days they are put down if nobody claims them. Some people with whom I have spoken to, call Don Animal, a killing centre, but that is only their opinion, obviously. I did phone Don Animal, inquiring about Gaby’s dogs and they simply refused to discuss them.

A local animal shelter in Nerja went to collect the five dogs, but one had already died, according to D.A. from a heart failure. They were told that they could not retrieve the dogs as they had distemper. (which they did not apparently have prior to being confiscated by the police).

Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment.

Bringing in the missing dogs

Bringing in the missing dogs

About ten days after the other dogs disappeared, they were finally located and retrieved, thanks to the APAA, with help from volunteers like Debbie, who had travelled from Switzerland to help find them, as the dogs knew her. The APAA were able to calmly collect them applying a lot of patience  and take them into care.

At present all the dogs are with an animal shelter in Cájiz and apparently Nerja Town Hall is covering all the expenses, which is unusual.

But let’s not lose perspective here because the overriding point is that Gaby took his own life as a direct consequence of the municipal police turning up and confiscating his dogs.

Even if the dogs did not have all their jabs and weren’t all microchipped, the normal procedure would be to warn the dog owner and not to carry off all his dogs. After all, nobody had been savaged by one of the dogs and it is completely understandable that a dog would become defensive if strangers were on his owner’s property causing the owner to become agitated – something that a dog quickly picks up on.

This is not about making Gaby into a martyr. Gaby, as one person who knew him said, had developed a mental issues, going back to around 2016 which gradually got worse. According to this person, his condition was common knowledge around town.  Yet, having spoken to Debbie, she confirms that the last time she saw him face to face was about three years ago, long after 2016, and he seemed perfectly OK. Gaby was reserved and introvert, yes, perhaps finding it difficult to socialise, but that does not mean there were ‘mental issues.’ All we know for certain was that he suffered from diabetes.

However, if, as one person claimed, he had mental issues, why did the Policía Local not turn up with somebody from Social Services, qualified to handle a possible situation?

Something to be taken into account is that we’re talking about a person having around twelve dogs on his rented property; that’s a lot of dogs, which could be intimidating for neighbours, despite their being well trained. But that’s not why the police went there; they turned up because somebody had claimed one of the dogs had attacked them near a road junction; not because there was a dozen dogs on the property.

Finally, there is a division between the townsfolk and what they consider to be the “hippies” in the Maro area. Gaby led a solitary lifestyle but that didn’t make him a hippy, which is synonymous with being a nuisance in some of the townsfolk’s point of view.

As for Gaby’s body, it was taken to the Instituto Forense de Málaga for an autopsy and the conclusion of the Guardia Civil investigation into his death.

(News: Maro/Nerja, Axarquia, Costa del Sol, Malaga, Andalucia)

  8 comments for “The Police, A Suicide & Dogs

  1. Patrick Barry Storey
    May 12, 2023 at 10:47 am

    So Arce by name and Arce by nature. Oh no he ripped my uniform trousers! Nice to see a councillor looking out for everyone’s elf and safety!

    Poor man. Poor dogs. Nasty local who doesn’t like dogs.

  2. Fred Davies
    May 11, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    Based on all i’ve read it’s pretty evident that Gaby would be still be alive and keeping himself to himself were in not for that misguided intervention

  3. B Berry
    May 11, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    It seems this could have been handled differently to arrive at a better outcome. When a dog attacks an officer there is an issue, but if clothes only are ripped then it does not warrant the destruction of the dog when other consequences can be tried. This was no emergency, but perhaps rather an opportunity to offer real help to this man. We do not likely know the full story, but hopefully this kind of animal destruction by the police will be well scrutinized. Animals deserve full protections from being shot, or allowed to run away scared in these instances. The owners deserve this of society, and for their animals. This man probably was within rights to keep the dogs, and they were “family”.

  4. Patrick Barry Storey
    May 11, 2023 at 2:40 pm

    Easy to pick on the “odd, different or foreign person”. No matter which country. It happens. Shame the authorities cannot put the same effort into the awful treatment of dogs left all day, at small farms , until some twit comes to water and feed them ,maybe. Or those left on balconies.
    Still it’s ok. His an odd foreigner. Let sleeping dogs lie. Or locals. !!??

  5. julie
    May 11, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    I wish to make it very clear I am most definitely not a fan of the Daily Mail, but a homeless man in London was tasered a few days ago and his two dogs were shot dead for alleged agression, but witnesses have said this was not the case. I hope this isn’t a trend by police in general.

  6. Ida Harth
    May 11, 2023 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you for following up on this story. Spanish press did not cover it and local authorities hoped everyone would just look the other way. I don’t think we will have know everything the police did and said that day. Their actions must have frightened Gaby terribly. He may have had mental health issues but it seems the heavy-handed actions of the police triggered a overwhelming level of despair in him.
    If APAA did not exist, all of Gaby’s dogs would have died at Don Animal. APAA has done an admirable job to help Gabi’s dogs.

  7. Amelia Sanchez
    May 11, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for the detailed investigation. I wish there was actual accountability and transparency from the Police involved here. The answers they are giving are contradictory.

  8. Julie
    May 11, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Kudos to you Martin for investigating this tragic suicide, when other news outlets have
    shied away from it, from what I can tell.

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