Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has announced a plan to crack down on owners who allow their dogs to foul pavements, parks and other public areas.
“They are going to be surprised at the toughness of the law,” said Carmena earlier this week, adding that careless dog owners will face fines of between €751 and €1,500.
Other Spanish cities have already adopted similar "scoop-the-poop" measures to tackle careless dog owners. In the Madrid dormitory town of Brunete, inspectors were sent out to monitor offenders, then mailed the droppings back to dog owners as a warning.
Another town filmed owners who let their dogs foul the pavement, while a third location organized volunteers along the lines of "canine patrols" to inform offenders. The town of Xàtiva, in Valencia, has even gone so far as to create a DNA database of dogs registered in the municipality to identify them through their excrement, with the owner paying both a fine and the cost of the DNA test. Some Catalan towns are following that example.
However, under a new ordinance currently being drafted, the sanctions may be traded in for community service such as “cleaning or sweeping” the streets on weekends.
The mayor said that the city will deploy municipal police officers in two trial districts at times of the day when the greatest number of infractions are being committed. She declined to say when and where this would take place.
Explaining that the fine system was actually introduced by the previous Popular Party administration, a City Hall official said that owners unable or unwilling to pay a fine could opt for street cleaning in the capital Saturdays and Sundays, between 9am and 2 pm.
The move is part of a bigger plan by the Carmena administration to raise awareness about the need to keep the city's streets clean.
Sign up for our newsletter!
EL PAÍS English Edition is launching a weekly newsletter. Sign up today to receive a selection of our best stories in your inbox every Saturday morning. For full details about how to subscribe, click here.
The city also intends to crack down on litterbugs, with similar fines targeting teenage revelers who leave bottles and rubbish behind after holding so-called botellón drinking parties in the street. They, too, will be able to opt for community service “or any other alternative measure with the aim of making offenders aware of how to behave in public places.”
Calculations would be made along the lines of four hours of work for every €100 of the fine, and up to 28 hours for serious offenses, says City Hall.
By June, the new legislation will also apply to people who do not dispose properly of cigarette butts or wrappers, feed pigeons, sort through trash bins, spray-paint walls or city furniture, and urinate in the street.
English version by Nick Lyne