The mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, said this week that for the time being she was suspending the search for a company to run the service that collects abandoned and dead animals from the town's streets.
It follows mounting controversy over a clause in the tender application document that allows the company that eventually wins the contract to put down unclaimed animals after 10 days.
As well as an outcry on social media and from charities, opposition councillors have criticised the PP-run administration, not just for the clause but also because they say the application to tender means more privatisation of council services.
Initially the councillor for Health, Carlos Alcalá, defended the search for a new company, saying that, other than some technicalities, the service was the same as it has been for 12 years, including during the time that the opposition councillors were also in charge of it.
Alcalá added that the clause that permits animals to be put down complies with the regional government's base legislation on the subject and that it was extremely rare for any animal to actually be destroyed.
This argument failed to convince Anda Leschiera, former councillor for Health under the previous PSOE-led coalition, who said: “A modern and progressive Marbella can't allow its image to be linked to the barbarous act that the PP aims to carry out with this new privatisation.” She added that the council should be working with voluntary groups, vets and donors instead to prevent unnecessary killing of animals.
Triple A asks for clarity
As a result of the controversy, the Triple A animal charity asked for a meeting with the mayor over what it claimed was confusion over what the charity's role is in collecting pets in Marbella.
In a separate, parallel agreement with the council, Triple A is responsible for collecting stray dogs, cats, ferrets and pet pigs, and the charity always cares for these until a new owner is found. Triple A asked the mayor to make clear to all parties that the new provider being sought is to cover all the other types of animals that the charity doesn't cover.
The mayor has now suspended the tender request while it is reworded and the PSOE opposition has said it will propose a motion to the council that Marbella should ban any animal from being destroyed.