from studying medicine to making animal abuse a crime in the US

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Since she was little, the mistreatment of animals has always been one of her main concerns. However, what Nuria Querol, 47, it was never expected that at some point it would collaborate with the FBI to get animal abuse declared a federal crime in the United States. It all started with the decision to cross the pond to spend a stay in American territory, specifically in the state of Virginia. “I trained in criminology, criminal profiling and the study of serial homicide investigation by one of the most important criminal profilers there is,” he tells EL ESPAÑOL.

For her, being able to be in the territory where the CIA headquarters are located, in Langley, or the FBI Academy, in Quantico, was a great inspiration. “Who was going to tell me years later that I would be meeting so many FBI agents and that they would teach me and cooperate with them on so many matters?” Add. However, despite his enriching stay, his own intuition and his parents’ push for him to return to Spain to finish his Medicine degree brought him back to Barcelona. “I came back, I finished my degree, I started practicing, but I still had the bug.”

For this reason, while he continued with his investigative work and was part of the Criminal Profiling Group of the University of Barcelona, ​​he continued to travel regularly to the United States due to his interest in a group of specialists in animal abuse: the NSA, or better known as the National Sheriffs Association. It was in 2014, in Phoenix, when, at a meeting, he met John Thompson, the CEO of the organization and the one who got me started on the team.

Núria Querol during one of her meetings at the National Sheriffs Association.

“For logical reasons, they do not invite anyone to be part of the committees where they discuss security issues. It’s obvious, because things can be filtered. However, I was lucky that she invited me to be part of those meetings”, says Núria. The main reason for the invitation is because Thompson himself I knew Núria’s career and he valued the fact that the Catalan knew and respected his work.

“Especially in the United States, where they can feel judged or questioned, He saw that I did not have those prejudices”, Add. From that moment, Núria began to be one more in the meetings of the Committee against Animal Abuse of the National Association of Sheriffs, where she claims to have lived the most important moments of her professional career.

[Estas son las principales novedades de la Ley de Derechos Animales]

In particular, remember one with special affection. It happened in January 2015 during the organization’s winter meeting. In that occasion, the then director of the FBI, James Comey, was part of it and announced a milestone that would mark a before and after regarding animal abuse in the country. “He spoke on three topics: immigration, terrorism and animal abuse. And that didn’t say much anymore. That was amazing,” she assures.

From that moment, the FBI would go on to change the classification of incidents of animal abuse, going to consider them a crime against society. “We had to keep our composure, all very professional, but inside we were all elated. We lived through it a lot, it was very beautiful”.

Nuria Querol during one of the meetings of the National Association of Sheriffs.

Nuria Querol during one of the meetings of the National Association of Sheriffs.

However, this has not been the only milestone with which Núria can feel proud for having contributed to its approval. Another of the great reforms that she has witnessed has been the ‘Farm Bill’, which would be a revolution in the way of treating victims of domestic violence with pets.

“We had worked a lot on the issue of animals being included in protection orders, because women when they entered a foster home, if the animals were not admitted, they did not enter. We had women sleeping in cars or on the street, with much more risk for them, “he explains. Since then, thanks to this new package of measures, a solution to this type of problem began to be found.

Núria Querol posing next to a kangaroo.

Núria Querol posing next to a kangaroo.

United States under magnifying glass

Despite the achievements in the United States in terms of animal protection, Núria considers that there is still a long way to go in the American territory. Policies like the ‘petfriends’, applied in some state shelters such as Utahhave been a breakthrough for animal advocates.

“They are models of extraordinary and very cool shelters”, assures Nuria. However, the fight against the privileges of hunters is one of the main objectives of animal rights groups, specifically the battle against the obsession that some have for treating the carcasses of some species as trophies.

“There have been problems as well that in Yellowstone in Wyoming. You meet people who enter supermarkets with a gun that they carry in the back of their pants, They carry it in the most normal way. They are some mentalities in those states that it costs a bit to change, ”explains Núria. In fact, as she affirms, there have been specimens that due to their age or characteristics have left the limits of Yellowstone and hunters have killed them. “That is having a mentality that is desperate”, complaint.

Núria Querol poses next to a poster for an animal protection campaign.

Núria Querol poses next to a poster for an animal protection campaign.

Spain as a great reference

Recently, the Council of Ministers has approved in a second round the new Animal Welfare Law. An achievement that, as Nuria explains, is a great advance. In fact, Spain is a pioneer in terms of animal protection compared to other countries in the world. “It is the only country that has a program to help victims of gender violence by taking in their pets. Victims can stay in foster homes until they recover and then they can return to their animals,” he says.

It’s about the program ‘VioPet’, an initiative approved in March 2020 that works together with the Ministry of Equality to create a network of safe spaces for these animals. “Although it is true that in Spain and Europe there is much to improve, but comparing it with the USA it is better. In some things, Spain is ahead”.

Núria during a talk in the United States on animal protection.

Núria during a talk in the United States on animal protection.


However, despite the fact that Spain could be considered a pioneer country in the defense of animal rights, Núría firmly believes that a step forward should be taken, especially with regard to the wording of the Penal Code. “The wording says that veterinary treatment is required to consider it animal abuse. An animal can be mistreated without injury. There may be abuse without there necessarily being injuries or that they are not observable at that time. Sometimes there are wounds or injuries that are apparently not seen, such as with an internal hematoma. That complicates the situation a lot.”

Meanwhile, Núria will continue combining her work as doctor, teacher and researcher of the Criminal Behavior Profiling and Analysis Unit at the University of Barcelona with its collaboration with the National Association of Sheriffs and the FBI. Its objective? Take the defense of animal rights to the top.