Volunteers from the Madrid-based animal shelter, El Refugio, have just completed a 3,500-km-long tour of the beaches of Santander, Barcelona, Valencia and Cadiz, accompanied by 14 dogs, in an effort to convince local authorities to set aside areas for people and their pets. Currently the vast majority of beaches are no-go areas for canines, but a recent survey indicated that just over half of beachgoers are not bothered by the presence of well-behaved dogs whose owners clean up after them, and many in fact complain that they can’t take Fido with them when they go on holiday. One person surveyed pointed out that humans dirty the beaches more than dogs do, with their beer and soft drinks cans, cigarette ends and left-overs from meals and snacks. On the whole, the group reported that they had been well-received in most places except in a beach in Barceloneta, Barcelona, where the Guardia Urbana were called in to expel them. The group also took advantage of their tour to remind local authorities of their responsibilities to abandoned animals under the Animal Rights Laws which have been passed in most of the country’s 17regions. The group is currently seeking support for its plan to ask the regional governments to adopt a single law to replace the existing 17. For example, only Catalonia prohibits putting down animals for which homes can’t be found. It is also the only region that wants an outright ban on bullfighting. The group said that last year 15,000 animals were abandoned in Madrid alone. In all, 109,000 dogs and 24,000 cats were rescued last year throughout Spain.

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