El Refugio del Burrito, with the help and support of The Donkey Sanctuary, UK fights hard to improve the welfare of the working donkey in Spain and performs a multiple approach to educate donkey owners, to train veterinaries and provide treatment to working donkeys, to make holiday makers aware of the situation and to enforce Municipalities to establish Codes of Practice to grant the welfare of donkeys. In Spain you can find some sort of donkey taxi in most of the touristic destinations, being the most known the Donkey Taxi in Mijas (Malaga).
Mijas Donkey Taxi
El Refugio del Burrito has an agreement with the Mijas Town-Hall to look after the conditions in which the donkeys at Mijas work as donkey-taxis. According to this agreement, El Refugio del Burrito gives assessment to the Town Hall and muleteers to improve the welfare standards and to provide a better service.
One of the initiatives is the redaction and approval of a Code of Practice for donkey taxi and carriage horses, but also to achieve the improvement of the facilities where the donkeys are kept during the day providing new sheds, new water trough, new drainage, pavement, access slope and hosing.
Educating the owners and improving donkeys’ health are also basic tasks. We have been carrying free vet checks and treatments for the last five years and the condition of donkeys has improved a lot and we have made owners aware of inadequate tack, teeth condition and hoof care among others.
A new Code of Practice is about to be approved and the Town Hall will be responsible to carry a yearly vet inspection and monitor welfare standards. Hence, we will not carry, anymore, free extensive vet checks and treatments but we will keep assessing the Town Hall and donkey owners to improve facilities and working donkey practices and we will keep carrying random welfare checks.
If you see any donkeys or mules during your holiday that you are worried about or if you have come across a large Donkey Taxi establishment not mentioned above, please contact us.
Donkey taxi check list
During your holidays, if you come across any establishment offering Donkey-Taxi or Donkey Tours services, we ask you to take into consideration the welfare of the donkeys and mules involved. To help you and your family decide whether or not to use such services, please answer the following questions. If the majority of answers are NO, the animals may be suffering and we’d decidedly encourage you not to use such service.
- Do you think this donkey or mule will be able to carry you comfortably? Please bear in mind that a healthy donkey can carry up to a fourth of its own weight. This ranges from 50 kilos for a medium sized donkey and 80 kilos for a larger one.
- Is there any water available for the donkeys? Donkeys may wear muzzles but they can still sip water through them.
- Do you think the saddle and tack are in good condition? Tack made of rope, metal, cable, chains and saddles tied to a donkey with rope or hose sections are unacceptable as they are the cause of injuries.
- Do the animals have a shelter for their resting periods? The place must shelter them from extreme weather conditions.
- Is the donkey's body free of injuries? If you detect hardened or damaged skin around the articulations or bald patches on the legs, this indicates the animals don’t have an adequate place to rest at night. An injured animal is not fit to work.
- Do the hoofs look well cared for? Loose shoes, limping, overgrown hooves, swollen limbs... are all signs for you not to use that particular donkey.
- Are donkeys alert, do they look happy? Signs of an exhausted donkey can be flat ears, excessive sweating, heavy breathing, etc
- Is the owner kind to his donkeys? Use of sticks, rods or any other hitting objects is forbidden.
- Is there an insurance to cover accidents? If the owner doesn't have an insurance policy, he will not be held responsible for any damage or injuries caused by accident or a fall.
There are Donkey Taxi and Donkey Tours operators that care for the donkeys well, but, unfortunately, many only see their donkeys as a way of profit, totally disregarding their welfare.
El Refugio del Burrito cares for the welfare of donkeys used in tourism and leisure sectors and establishes agreements to collaborate with Councils in the production and passing of Codes of Practice that regulate the work and use of donkeys and the services themselves, for the better welfare of the donkeys and the safety of customers.
If during your holidays, you see a donkey or mule that worries you, or if you find a Donkey Taxi establishment that isn’t mentioned here, please contact us.