A dog walker in Malaga city centre. / SUR

Malaga aims to be top dog as Spain's most pet-friendly city

The city is already a pioneer in the management of feral cat colonies and works closely with animal welfare organisations on the ground

IGNACIO LILLO

The city of Malaga wants to be the best Friend of Animals and it already has the right credentials to support its application for the new award that has been announced by central Government’s Ministry of Social Rights.

The council’s ambition to take the top title has already received the support of the main animal welfare groups in the city, as well as institutions and businesses that care for pets.

Malaga is one of the most advanced cities in Spain in the care of abandoned cats and dogs: having already achieved a zero euthanasia policy and, on several occasions, had no cats in its municipal shelters looking for new homes. Additionally, the city is a pioneer in the management of feral cat colonies - which live freely in parks and other urban spaces. Currently there are almost 230 registered colonies and there is an annual budget for neutering using the CER method (Capture-Sterilise-Return).

Therefore, it is not surprising that among the letters of support for the Malaga candidacy are the signatures of Carmen Manzano, president of the Society for the Protection of Animals; Esperanza Oña, vice president of the Andalusian Parliament and promoter of the regional law on the welfare of domestic animals; the Amigo Animal association (Aman); Enrique Perigüell, CEO of the company ADN Canino and Pablo Muñoz Gabilondo, responsible for the website that specialises in pet travel 'Pipper on tour'.

Zero euthanasia policy

Malaga's Councillor for Environmental Sustainability, Gemma del Corral, highlights that the biggest milestone was the declaration of a zero euthanasia policy of cats and dogs that the city made in the first weeks of 2021, after years of collaboration with animal rights groups, especially with the Protectora refuge and Perros de Málaga; as well as the numerous awareness campaigns that have contributed to a significant and progressive reduction in abandonment and an increase in adoptions. "It is something Malaga can proudly boast about," she said.

The city was also one of the first to implement microchips and canine DNA control to reduce the presence of excrement in the streets, something that generates numerous complaints from the public. "It is a measure that was not understood at first but now we serve dozens of cities that see Malaga as a reference."

Animal lovers

Del Corral said the capital of the Costa del Sol capital has achieved this success by working with NGOs on the ground, and it is one reason why "animal lovers from all over Spain value the work of Malaga".

The City Council is also working on other projects for the future, such as the pet cemetery, which will be operational in the coming months, once the administrative procedures are completed.