A woman walks her dog in a street in the centre of Frigiliana.
The regulations in the villages
-Frigiliana. The bylaw which regulates ownership of dogs was approved in 1999. Owners pay 32.55euros a year per animal, or 40 for a team of hunting dogs.
-Totalán. The regulation has been in force since the early 1980s. This year 615 euros will be collected for the 41 dogs on the register, at a rate of 15 euros per animal.
-Árchez. The bylaw here has also been in force for over 20 years. In 2012 the tax rose from six to ten euros per animal per year .
-Algatocín. A bylaw charging 5 euros a year was approved in October 2012, but it is not yet being applied.
The proposal the mayor of Mijas, Ángel Nozal, made on his Facebook page on Monday, to tax dog owners in the municipality, has caused fierce debate on the social networks, and one which is still going on. However, in three small villages in the province, the tax already exists. Nor is it anything new, which is why the politicians are defending it and denying that it is just another way of making money. Those villages are Frigiliana, Totalán and Árchez, all of which are in La Axarquía.
Also, in Algatocín, in the Serranía de Ronda, an identical bylaw was approved in October 2012, although it is not being applied yet for financial reasons. “This is not the time to introduce new taxes. It has been approved and it will be applied, but not now”, says the mayor, José Manuel López, who explains that the amount would be about five euros per animal per year.
In the three villages in which this tax is being charged, the amount varies considerably. In Frigiliana, people pay 32.55 euros per animal, or 40 euros for a team of hunting dogs. Deputy mayor José Antonio González insists that this measure is not just a way of making money, although he admits that each year the Town Hall receives about 800 euros from the tax , which is enforced by the municipality’s six Local Police officers.
“We have an agreement with the College of Veterinarians of Malaga and they inform us when new dogs are registered in the village”, explains the deputy mayor, who believes that measures of this type “help people to be aware of the importance of proper behaviour where pets are concerned”. Anyone who owns a dog has to pick up its excrement, because “we don’t have sufficient personnel to clean all the streets of the village”, says José Antonio González.
The wording of the bylaw in this village in La Axarquía states that the tax is to cover “the technical and administrative municipal activity involved in verifying that the dogs are adequately vaccinated, as well as their state of health, on public health grounds. Also, for the drawing up of a canine population register as required by law”. Nevertheless, more than a few local dog owners have registered their pets in neighbouring municipalities such as Nerja or Torrox to avoid paying the tax.
The ones that dirty the street
The mayor of Totalán, Miguel Ángel Escaño, says that in his village this bylaw has been in force since the early 1980s. “It used to include donkeys, horses and mules, but it doesn’t now because hardly anyone has those these days”, he explains. He regrets the fact that Totalán has no Local Police force, because it means the tax cannot be enforced very well. “It’s true that everybody here knows everybody else, but we have 41 dogs on the register, and the owners pay 15 euros a year for each of them, and I can assure you that there are over 100 in the village; you only have to look at the amount of dog mess in the streets to tell that”, he says.
The mayor of Árchez, Amalia Jiménez agrees. She regrets that dog owners have little civic conscience. “We should charge them a lot more”, she warns. In fact, last year an increase in the tax was approved, from six to ten euros a year. In this small village of barely 500 inhabitants, 400 euros will be paid this year for the 40 dogs on the census. “We only monitor the dogs that live in the village, because they are the ones that make the streets dirty, we don’t charge the people who live in the countryside and have dogs”, she explains.
The president of the ‘Sociedad Protectora de Animales de Malaga’, Carmen Manzano, says these taxes are not justified. “If this happened in Germany or France, you would receive something in exchange, like parks specifically for dogs. Here, it’s like the blue parking zones, they charge you to park although you are already paying for that in your road tax”, she says.