DOG WORLD has been inundated with emails, letters and phone calls of protest about the so-called artist who allegedly starved a dog as part of an exhibition in Nicaragua last year.
It has been reported that Guillermo Vargas chained the dog – who certainly appeared in photographs to be emaciated – in the corner of gallery until it died.
However, the gallery’s owner has since said that the animal was only chained for three hours, was fed regularly and eventually ran away.
Nevertheless, there was an outcry when it was suggested that Vargas was planning a similar ‘installation’ this year and possibly next.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) immediately became involved and joined forces with one of its member charities in Nicaragua in a bid to provide better animal welfare legislation and avoid similar cases in the future.
The member charity involved, Honduras Association for the Protection of Animals and their Environment (AHPRA), has since been invited to be official observers in this year’s forthcoming exhibition.
AHPRA has also worked with the art gallery which displayed Vargas’ original controversial exhibition to change its competition rules so they now prohibit the abuse of animals.
WSPA’s attempts to talk to the artist himself have proved fruitless.
“The act committed by Vargas has different versions and there has been a certain level of inconsistency in the information circulated,” said a WSPA spokesman this week.
“The artist is Costa Rican but this exhibit happened in the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua, last October.
“While there is an animal cruelty law in Costa Rica there is no such legislation in Nicaragua; therefore, the artist did not break the law if he did mistreat this dog.
“The artist has been invited to exhibit at the Central American Biennale set to take place in Honduras this year and we learnt that his participation could not be avoided as he is showing a different exhibit, apparently not involving a dog this time.
“We had a meeting with Business Owners for Art, an organisation co-sponsoring the Honduras Biennale, at which we expressed our position against the act and formally requested that AHPRA be invited to observe the exhibition.
“Organisers of the Biennale have agreed not only to make AHPRA official observers but to also to include new competition rules which prohibit the abuse of animals – a fantastic achievement, particularly in a country with little animal protection.
“I think what has shocked people most is that starving an animal isn’t against the law.
“There is currently no global recognition of animal welfare, but WSPA’s campaign for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) is working to change that.
“We are lobbying governments worldwide to get support for the first ever agreement on animal welfare at the United Nations, but it’s going to be a long, hard process and we need the public’s support to get governments to act.”
WSPA’s petition can be signed at www.animalsmatter.org .