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Dog Laws in Spain with some examples

Following on from last week’s article in relation to the apparent randomness of how authorities apply the Dangerous Dogs Act here in Spain I received some cases that highlight this problem.

This next little item highlights the ferocity of dogs when they need to resort to aggression. So many people try or wish to ignore any such signs of aggression in their dogs. Some weeks ago, here in our local newspapers there was a report about a husband and wife who owned a Pit Bull. The husband had consistently abused the dog though with the wife it was fine.

One fateful day the husband again abused the dog but this time it finally retaliated and attacked the husband in the neck killing him. Police called to the incident needed to shoot the dog 4 times just to make it release its grip. These are powerful and worrying dogs indeed but it does not mean that the majority of Pit Bulls are so similarly aggressive. It is just their bite power is never the less quite phenomenal and is it really needed in our society.

This week I also heard about some Spanish owners who have a male and female Pit bull. When they are at work during the day, their dogs became highly aggressive guard dogs. They also bark incessantly all day long until the owners return. One day one managed to get out and severely mauled a Germans much smaller and less powerful dog. True to the tradition of many Englishmen, a hero was on hand and he dived in splitting the two dogs up to save the smaller dog. This was a very brave thing to do because had the Pit Bull then turned its attention to him he it could have possible killed him.

The Germans immediately issued a Denuncia but when the Spanish owners returned and learned of the attack, they were very apologetic. The Germans owners offered to withdraw their Denuncia provided the owners regularly exercised their dogs and cleaned up the excreta left about in their garden, as the smell was atrocious to the neighbours. For the common complaint that their dogs barked all day long, they asked me if one of my collars could make them quiet. My reply included the details of the compressed air collars and to suggest they advise the Spanish owners to improve their security so that both dogs could never again manage to get outside of their own territory and worry people and other pets.

At first, it all seemed hopeful as if the United Nations had arrived at the Urbanisation and common sense prevailed instead of having to resort to the law. Sadly, though the owners were willing to try an air collar, they said the attack was due to the Germans dog being too timid. On hearing this, the Germans reinstated their Denuncia and asked me if these dogs were in fact subject to restrictions under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

My second reply to this question was that the dogs were indeed subject to restrictions under the law as it considers this breed as a dangerous dog. This was also providing their town hall actually maintained such a register.

If the town hall did keep a register and enforced the law then the owners would have to prove the dog has a microchip, the dog is insured, as well as the owner must take an assessment test to see if they are capable of owning and controlling any dangerous dog. Any walking of the dogs in public places are one at a time and the dogs must be on a short lead and muzzled.

Certainly, it appears they have never previously registered their dogs nor have they followed any of the required restrictions. Other residents of the urbanisation can only hope is that the local council will do something to restrict these dogs as I doubt the owners are bothered or even willing to socially train their dogs at all. The on going problem is that being fenced in this will only make them more and more aggressive creating an accident waiting to happen.

Another case came in as well last week that involves a mastiff dog that barks at the gate and looks like a good guard dog. In fact, if you open the gates then the dog immediately quietens down sniffing you. Even for my dog Winston he would bark at other dogs passing our gates when they were closed but when the gates were left open then he did not bother to bark at all.

This mastiff has managed to open the gate a few times and managed to get out but it only runs up to other dogs and once having sniffed them he returns without showing aggression.

A dog owner was passing one day and this mastiff escaped and ran toward them so the owner picked up their dog by its scruff and it scratched her face trying to get down. The owner blamed what happened on the owners of the Mastiff and because she went to the Hospital, the police became involved. Luckily, other people saw what happened and offered to state what actually happened and that the Mastiff is friendly and not aggressive. The town hall has not taken any further action other than to require the Mastiff entering onto the Register of Dangerous Dogs.

This means he must keep the dog muzzled when out in public and to use a short lead. He must prove from the vet the dog has a microchip, it is insured, and he has to go to the British police to prove that he is not a criminal or a terrorist. The owner also has to go for a written test that will prove he is suitable person to own a Dangerous Dog.

Certainly my reading of the information sent from the town hall it appears all dogs over 25 kilograms are classified as a dangerous dog requiring registration. Possibly this is just an error in the translation. The problem is that looking around the area there are many dogs classified as dangerous seen walking about in public places without wearing a muzzle or on short leads.

Whilst the owner was in the town hall filling in the forms, he noticed one form with 7400 euros on it. When he asked what that was for they told him that this was a fine for another owner for not registering a dangerous dog following a number of warnings. It would seem that the fines involved could be very large indeed.

Ignorance of the law is never a defence but here it does seem the authorities may act leniently if there is some confusion in the requirements for registration. Providing owners are then willing to correct the situation, once they become aware and conform to the law then it would seem that fines are not initially enforced. Only thing is do not quote me.

From all this the lack of clear cut standardised laws that few of us are even aware of, all I can do is to advise anyone coming to Spain and wishes to own a dog here then do check with their town hall for all the information regarding the Dangerous Dogs Act, its wording and how it is enforced. It is better to be certain of the areas law because it would seem if you ignore it then it could come back and bite you hard.

There were two letters to the editor this week and one pointed out that all dog owners should show consideration to other people. I fully agree and think that most people want that. I would prefer people did not have to resort to using the law to solve any anti social behaviour and that people simply respect other people’s needs.

The second letter related to bringing dogs out to Spain to this heat. I see dogs in Romania that live in freezing conditions during the winter and suffer searing temperatures in the summer. The dogs simply adapt to the temperature changes. Anyone bringing a dog from a colder climate may find in the first summer the heat affects their dogs but they will soon become accustomed to the heat.

If it is because the writer has read about the army dogs that sometimes work in very hot climates and are living in air-conditioned kennels and working for only 30 minutes a day this is because they also work in many differing climates for short periods. Most dogs can and will adapt and enjoy the weather here. When it is hot, they will seek out a cool spot and sleep. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

For those of you who may find your dog infected with Leishmaniasis then Pam and Patricia have had this problem with such dogs and familiar with living with this disease. If you would like to have more information on life with infected dogs then please do ring Trish on 965761088 or Pam on 699571628 for their help and advice.

You may recall some weeks ago that whilst changing my car tyre a large cockroach invaded my car. Fortunately, when I replaced my toolbox it landed on the offensive critter and killed it. This week I was driving along and when I switched on the air conditioning, small ants came swarming out from the air vents and switches covering the dashboard. This invasion distracted my attention a number of times and I nearly crashed the car trying to kill them.

I stopped at the first shop and purchased some Raid Max to spray into the air intakes. Once home I sprayed the cars interior and left it for a few hours to kill them all. I can only think that maybe some crumbs of food had remained on the carpet and ants were looking for this. Please do be careful about leaving food in your car otherwise you could suffer the same fate as me. Let's be careful out there.

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