MIJAS’s council has said it wants to change rules to improve conditions for animals working for the town’s donkey taxi service, with animal rights campaigners sceptical of the plans.
Council officials unveiled their proposals following meetings last Tuesday. They include measures placing a maximum weight on passengers, regulations for working hours and the quality of stables.
Juan Carlos Maldonado, the Mayor of Mijas, said officials had to balance animal welfare with the survival of a service he claimed the town depended on.
“We have to move with the times. We are going to improve the quality of life of the donkeys while also securing and guaranteeing a service that is a symbol of this town,” the mayor said.
“The donkey taxis are one of our major tourist attractions. We have to combine that heritage with the welfare of our animals and doing so will help give Mijas a friendlier image,” he added.
The local branch of the Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA), long-time opponents of the use of donkey taxis, said it doubted the council’s true motives.
The activists said the plans were an attempt to making sure the taxi service continued, along with the “animal exploitation” that goes with it.
“We feat that instead of looking out for the welfare of the donkeys, the council aims to perpetuate the service and shield it from complaints,” the group said.
Officials at the council meeting last Tuesday included the authority’s transport spokesperson Nuria Rodriguez and Javier Lara of the Malaga Bar Association.
Lara said the council would ensure the service continued but that it met the standards set out in animal rights laws.
PACMA said they had previously filed a complaint with the council alleging the taxis broke various regional, national and European rules.
Council transport spokesperson Nuria Rodriguez said the town lived in large part off the earnings from the taxis.
PACMA said: “Listening to a public representative in the 21st Century admit a whole town profiteers off animal exploitation and that it is fine should anger us all. Instead of innovating Mijas Council remains stuck in the past.”