We continue to fight for improvement in the conditions and welfare of the Mijas donkey taxis. Over the years we have seen an increase in veterinary care the workers provide their donkeys, and a decrease in some issues, such as the number of hoof problems and poor body condition. However, we still have a number of other concerns that we are dealing with.
One very important issue is that all the donkeys are stallions, which means the owners keep them tied up constantly on a short rope, to prevent them biting and attacking each other. The owners’ traditional mindsets mean they do not want to castrate them, however, we continue to push the need for the donkeys to be castrated in order to allow them to have more freedom of movement, socialize together, and therefore give them a better quality of life. We are doing everything we can to try and persuade the owners to castrate, as this would change the way they are being kept, but as you can imagine this is not easy. The resting place beneath the taxi point now has some partitions which mean they can be on a slightly looser rope without getting at each other.
The donkeys’ stables where they rest at night is another matter of concern, as they do not comply with acceptable welfare standards. We have been insisting that new shelters with adjoining outside areas are built in order to allow the donkeys freedom of movement and give them the appropriate living conditions they require. We have provided the council with diagrams of shelters and are offering ongoing assistance with the project. This has been delayed by the council due to their issues of funding, however in our last meeting they informed us that they were now able to continue with the plans for building. Unless the donkeys are all castrated it is unlikely we would be able to build the ideal open plan facilities, however, at least they can build adequate housing for them, with an outdoor option for those that can mix, until we achieve our goal of castrating them all. This issue is one of our priorities on the Mijas donkey taxis campaign, as the current conditions are totally unsuitable and cruel to keep donkeys in.
There has been a change of political party over the last years in Mijas and we currently have a little more support from the local council responsible for transport in the town. We are organising a course for the counsellor and some of her team, as well as the local police, in order to give them training in donkey care needs and what welfare issues to look out for. The council have now changed the shelter at the taxi point in order to give all the donkeys access to some roofing and workers are also under instruction to take their donkeys past the water fountain at certain points of the day. Although the donkeys eat before and after work we are also pushing for them to have something available during their shift.
We have a signed agreement with the Town Hall, creating guidelines for the donkey owners to adhere to and permission to visit the stables where the donkeys rest out of work hours, with our vets, to perform checks on the premises. We are now planning our next vet inspection. The workers are under instructions that they are not to work any donkeys who have injuries, wounds that need treatment or are not fit for work. We have been able to impose this when we are there and spot a donkey working when they should be at rest, however, we cannot monitor all the time so we really rely on the public helping us to take action. Raising awareness amongst the locals and tourists is an important part of the work in Mijas and we ask that the general public report their concerns, not only to us but directly to the ‘Consejalia de Transporte y Movilidad’ at the Town Hall.
We are currently waiting for confirmation on the next meeting date with the council in order to further plan the construction of the stables, and take forward some recent complaints and push for action on the issues identified above.