Of course it’s not only dog owners who want to know what is and isn’t allowed in Spain. Anyone spending time here is affected by the way in which others look after, or not, their pets. Barking dogs, dangerous dogs, dog mess left on the pavements have an impact on everyone. In this article we look at some of the issues of importance to dog owners and their neighbours alike.
If you have a dog in Spain you should check to see if it’s on the ‘potencialmente peligrosas’ (PPP) list for your local region. The list includes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, American Pitbull, Rottweiler and Bull Terrier but it does vary according to which part of Spain you live in. You can be stopped and fined if yours is on the list and you haven’t taken the appropriate measures.
All dogs in Spain are required to be on the lead in public places and if your dog is on the dangerous dogs’ list then it should be muzzled too. These dogs must also be insured and you must apply for a licence. The licence is not for your dog but for you. You will have to have a medical and a criminal record check to ensure that you are a fit owner for it. You can obtain details of this from your local town hall.
Finding a dog
All dogs should be on a lead with their owners in control. However, there are times when a dog escapes and is picked up by a stranger. If you do come across a lost dog in Spain then you can catch it and take it to the vet. If it doesn’t have a microchip then the vet will call the Policia Local who will call the municipal dog pound to arrange to collect the dog.
If it does have a chip, it will be registered on a data base and the vet is able to call the owners. It is important that you register your dog’s chip if you live in Spain on the community data base. You also need to log your address and telephone number in case the dog gets lost. It’s worthwhile doing even if you only stay a few weeks a year here. It costs about €20 and can be done at the vets.
If a barking dog is keeping you up at night or if you come across one that’s living in squalid conditions and chained in a dirty backyard you can contact the Local Police. Hitting a dog is a crime and a matter for the Guardia Civil.
Dogs and beaches
It’s part of an idyllic picture, your dog running free along a sandy beach. However, the reality is that there are relatively few beaches in Spain where dogs are allowed. Each town will have its own designated areas, if any at all, and it is your responsiblity to check where they are.
In some cases, there can be different arrangements according to the season and time of day. It goes without saying that if you do find a beach where dogs are allowed that you make sure that you clean up after them. As this is another very hot topic.
The councils are increasingly taking action to address the problem of the minority who don’t pick up after their dogs. Leaflets, fines and awareness campaigns have become the norm and there is a sense that the tolerance level has dropped and people want to see a difference in their local area.
Carmen Morate is councillor in Torrevieja with responsibility for the local dog pound and animal welfare; ‘We have been issuing pick up bags for free and it’s certainly an issue that we are determined to do something about. However, it’s not just about cleaning up after dogs, it’s also about ensuring that there is pride in your environment and that everyone takes responsiblity for keeping the streets clean, those who don’t have a dog too.’
Watch out for caterpillars
Your dog will enjoy the sights and smells of country walks in Spain. However, be cautious around February to April time as this is when the infamous processionary caterpillar is at large. This creature can cause an extreme allergic reaction in dogs that leads to their tongues swelling and difficulties with breathing.
If walking your dog in country areas at these times of year just be on the lookout for lines of the caterpillar as they are coming down from the trees to find a place to burrow on the ground.
Still a pleasure
Reading though this article you might get the impression that dogs are an issue in Spain. They’re not. The favourable weather means that walking your dog, providing you avoid the mid day heat in summer, will be a pleasure almost all year round.
You can also expect a welcome from the majority of bars and restaurants with outside terraces. Many are happy for you to sit outside with your dog and stopping off for refreshments during your dog walk in Spain should not be a problem.
There is a real dog-walking community out there and you will make friends as you encounter the same regular walkers on the same routes, of all nationalities. Keep to the rules, be considerate of others and enjoy time with your dog whilst in Spain.