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Aplied legal research: Dogs in the metro in Barcelona


Dogs will be able to travel in the Barcelona Metro shortly, possibly in the summer of 2014. The public announcement was made by the Regidor de Présidencia i Territori del Ajuntament de Barcelona [Councilor of the Presidency and Territory of the Municipal Government of Barcelona], Excm. Sr. Jordi Martí i Galbis on October 28, to celebrate the ANIMALADDA [1] Reunion, after the Municipal Government came to a agreement with the Company Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona [Metropolitan Transportation of Barcelona] (TMB), which needs a referendum form the Generalitat [Regional Government]. The news has made a great impact in the press [2] , given that, as has been highlighted, it represents progress in the integration of companion animals in the urban environment. It also represents one step further, and an especially significant one, in the policies of responsible ownership that are being developed in Barcelona, by the Municipal Government’s Oficina de Protección de los Animales [Office of Protection of Animals], which is undoubtedly the only office of its kind in a state municipality, under the direction of Mrs. Anna Ortonoves. For those of us who have been working for several years on this topic and actively collaborating for its advancement, the news did not surprise us, but rather we had been awaiting its public announcement

One of the aspects that should be highlighted is that, after this achievement, there are many people who have worked efficiently, with solidarity and with a collaborative spirit: from the actors involved in political action, to the Animal Protection Associations, ad to the multitudes who signed a petition in favor of accepting dogs in urban transportation in Barcelona. What is left for me to do as the Director of the Research Group ADS (Animals-Law-Society) of the UAB, is to highlight our contribution, perhaps the least visible of all, to achieving this result.

In 2011 the Research Group ADS concurred and obtained a competitive Project [3], sponsored by the Municipal Government of Barcelona, whose title was precisely: “Strategies to prevent abandonment: transport of companion animals in the urban environment”. The fundamental objective of the Project was to perform an exhaustive comparative study of the transportation regulations of companion animals in the urban environment and the publication of the results in two different formats: the first in an informative manner, in order to use it as the basis to correct or improve the current regulations, which were not adequate for animals and humans who were living together, and second, in a more scientific manner, as a publication that thoroughly collected the complete results of the work performed. These publications had been waiting for the news to become public and will be made public shortly.

The motto of our research has always been during this time to transmit a simple and effective message: “Urban transportation, friendly and open to animals”, or “Pet-friendly Transportation”. It is a message that, in a consolidated form, is already being practiced in other cities around the world which have declared themselves to be pet-friendly cities, as Barcelona has now done. The people on our team have been developing different fields of work: the ordered compilation of materials for the creation of a database about transportation of companion animals in public transportation (Nuria Murlà Ribò, Elisabet Miras, Irene García Colell, Crístina Bécares, Juan Ignacio Serra, Maria Gordillo), the publication of articles about comparative legislation (Carlos Contreras), the study of the established system of sanctions (José Antonio Jiménez Buendía) and the participation of all in international forums (Zurich, Brussels), in order to raise awareness of the work and to compare with other experts the progress in studies that have been taking place.
As an anecdote, I have to say that Munich, the capital of Bavaria, declared itself to be a pet-friendly city in November 2009 [4], and installed a general census for animals, the payment of Companion Animal Tax, free access to public transportation and the obligation to pass a citizen training course (for both the dogs and owners). The announcement of this regulatory change was made by the then Oberbürgermeister, Christian Ude (SPD), who was delighted, with a hint of irony, by what the change in these actions meant for the city when he stated: “Die Zamperl haben in München ja schon immer eine große Rolle gespielt.” (=those with four legs have always played an important role in Munich).

The regulation of Companion Animals in the urban environment contributes in a decisive form to the removal of the pernicious social ulcer that is abandonment, which, in Spain, the population has been fighting against with very visible results in recent years. Stray dogs have disappeared from our urban landscape, whereas in other countries this is very much still a pending topic [5]. It is not a minor topic. The EU has announced the promulgation of a framework legislation about Companion Animals before 2015. The Spanish Minister of Agriculture has recently declared that the Ministry intends to regulate the situation of Companion Animals in the near future.

Research does not always lead to immediate results, but in Legal Sciences it intends to achieve changes in legal texts which can contribute, as this case intended, to an improvement in living conditions for citizens. The acceptance of Companion Animals in the urban environment, giving them access to public transportation, along with policies including census, identification with chips and the health card obligations, constitute the basic pillars of a society that recognizes Companion Animals are part of the city of today. This is a city that looks to encourage responsible ownership and harmonize the interests of a population where “those with four legs” deserve respectful treatment. One cannot ignore the information about the great number of citizens who share their lives with dogs or with cats and who need, above all in moments of crisis in which we’re living, to be able to travel in public transportation. The example of Barcelona, as well as that of Munich and many other cities around the world, is a step forward that I am sure many other cities in our country will follow. That our research has contributed to this advance only further stimulates our desire to keep helping to improve animal welfare in the urban environment from the University.

Teresa Giménez-Candela
Professor of Roman Law
Animal Law Professor
Autonomous University of Barcelona

[1]Vid. ANIMALADDA promoted by the ADDA, Asociación para la Defensa de los Derechos del Animal (Association for the Defense of the Rights of Aimals), the pioneer in Spain in the area of action for animals, since 1976.
[2] Vid. 20 Minutos, La Vanguardia, Europa Press, Antena3, El Periódico
[3] Ref.:12S04161
[4] Abendzeitung, 9.11.2009
[5] Romania, Mexico, Brazil, among others, figure among the countries where policies of canine population control should take place and responsible ownership should be promoted

keys Dogs, Pet-friendly cities , Urban Transportation of companion animals , Research Group ADS-UAB

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