A town in southern Spain where donkey taxis are considered a key tourist attraction has introduced a code of conduct to help with the animals’ welfare.
The British-based charity The Donkey Sanctuary said its Spanish branch helped launch the new code of conduct for donkey taxi owners in Mijas, Anadalucia.
The sanctuary, El Refugio del Burrito, worked with the local authority to draw up new welfare conditions which must be checked regularly to show the animals are fit for work ferrying tourists around the town in the hot sun.
Donkey taxi owners who fail to comply can be fined.
Under the code, which came into force on January 1, working donkeys must pass regular inspections by The Donkey Sanctuary’s experts, with their reports recorded in a “passport”.
Donkeys must be seen by a farrier every two months and a dentist once a year and be regularly wormed and vaccinated.
In addition, donkey taxi owners must keep a maximum of three animals on the “rank” at any one time and provide regular rest breaks and access to fresh water and stabling.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s head of European operations, Andrew Judge, welcomed the code, but said there was no room for complacency.
“This is great news for donkeys in Spain, where welfare laws are not enforced by the local authorities.
“It is the first of many such welfare concerns that we will be working on in the coming year and where we will strive to have a similar outcome. We hope that it will lead to greater compassion and respect for these hard-working animals.
“It has taken many years of hard work to change the regulations and more importantly the mindset of the town hall and the taxi owners.”
The Mijas authorities support the new code since they see the donkey taxis as a key tourist attraction and consider that anything that improves donkey welfare improves the image of the town.
El Refugio del Burrito will continue to work closely with town officials and taxi owners to ensure that the new welfare standards are met and enforced.
The new code of conduct, which is an enhancement of an existing bylaw dating from 2011, also applies to horse and carriage drivers.