El Refugio del Burrito, The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish Sanctuary, works to improve the living conditions of Spanish donkeys in need and takes action following reports of abuse. In the village of Mijas (Málaga, Spain) donkeys are used as a tourist attraction, carrying passengers and luggage.
They have been working with Mijas town hall and the local authorities for a number of years in order to improve the conditions for all the donkeys working there. El Refugio have an agreement with the local council imposing stricter rules on the donkey taxi owners, with guidelines for them to adhere to and permission for us to perform checks on the premises and stables with our vets. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing process of fighting for the rights of these donkeys, reporting any abuse or concerns to the mayor and monitoring to ensure the agreement is followed.
Earlier this month, a Mijas donkey worker was captured on camera abusing his donkeys. In the short film, the man kicks one of his donkeys twice in the face and elbows another donkey. The shocking incident takes place in the middle of the street, while some tourists ride the animals.
The Spanish Welfare team has investigated the incident and reported it to the authorities under the Andalusian Animal Protection Act and the Criminal Code. Furthermore, they will continue to check the health status of these donkeys in order to guarantee their welfare.
It’s not the first time...
On 22 September the Spanish team received a similar film of a Mijas donkey being abused by his owner. That film shows the donkey lying collapsed in the street, with three donkey taxi workers trying to get him up. They pushed and pulled, dragging him on the ground, until the man pulling him from the front became annoyed and violently kicked the donkey’s face. The horror of onlookers was audible as they gasped and shouted at the workers, while the workers continued dragging the donkey more forcibly along the street. Finally, one worker decided to remove the heavy saddle and equipment from the donkey as their method was evidently not working. The donkey rolled over onto his side to allow the equipment to be untied and once removed he immediately stood up.
The following morning, the welfare team and a vet travelled to Mijas with one of our vets to check this donkey’s health and report the incident to the authorities.
Working to improve the living conditions of donkey taxis
Over the last couple of months, a number of meetings with the town hall were held to enforce further changes with the donkey taxis and ensure that the violent worker has been suspended from work. El Refugio collaborated with the relevant local police departments and are prosecuting this worker under the Mistreatment of Animals Act. In order to raise awareness and better educate those working with the donkey taxis we organized a course on donkey care with our vet and the council in November, so that only those who completed the course would receive a diploma and be able to renew their licence to work with the donkey taxis the following year.
Due to the new political party the current councillor responsible for the donkey taxis is enthusiastic about working with us and implementing change. The council is currently identifying new more appropriate premises where the donkeys can be stabled.