Spain’s new animal protection law, which went into effect last week, prohibits leaving dogs tied up unsupervised at the entrances of supermarkets and stores, a common practice in Spain that now carries a fine of €500 ($530.07). In Norway, which has had similar legislation for two decades, a company has developed a solution for avoiding fines: air-conditioned kennels that are safe and free for users, located next to stores and opened and closed with an app. These kennels already have a presence in five European countries, although Spain is not among them. Meanwhile, in the United States, another company offers similar services, although it charges a fee.
Spanish regulations prohibit keeping animals “tethered or roaming in public spaces without the face-to-face supervision” of their handler, which means that Spaniards can no longer leave their dogs at a store’s entrance to go shopping. “Leaving an animal tied up for a minute to go in and buy bread is not a problem but leaving it out in the sun for an hour to go to the mall is, because [the animal] can become dehydrated, there may be a risk of abuse or of being attacked by another dog,” says Nuria Menéndez de Llano, an expert in animal law. There’s a minor sanction for infractions that ranges from €500 ($530.07) to €10,000 ($10,601.50); enforcement of this law depends on city councils and local governments.
This practice has been banned in Norway since 2004, and a company there offers a solution. “We are a small Norwegian company founded by dog lovers. We have worked with dog experts from universities, dog trainers and dog shelters to create a suitable solution for these animals,” explains Frode Rogstad, the CEO of Den4Dogs, over the phone. The company has developed an individual kennel that is placed at the entrance of the establishments that request it.
To use this service, consumers have to download an app. When they arrive at the supermarket, they open the door of the kennel with the app and leave the dog there, where it is secured with an electromagnetic lock. “They are air-conditioned, comfortable and secure,” Rogstad says. Once pet owners are done shopping, they open the door with the same app and pick up their dog. The kennels are automatically disinfected after each use. This prevents the dog from biting or attacking another dog, as well as pet theft.
One hundred kennels installed
The company claims that it has already installed a hundred of these kennels in Norway (where there are about 60) and Sweden (about 40). “It is mostly supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants and pharmacies that order them,” the founder says. In addition, Dens4Dogs has received orders from Finland, the Netherlands and Slovenia, although there are none from Spain. “The kennels are adapted for the Nordic cold, but we also tested them to withstand heat up to 46 degrees C (about 115 degrees F),” he says. The service is free for pet owners. On the other hand, businesses that want to install them must pay €800 ($848.12) to do so, plus a monthly maintenance fee of €99 ($104.95).
Dens4Dogs is not the only company that has taken notice of this new need among pet lovers. DogSpot, a brand that offers comfortable kennels in which people can leave their pets while shopping or eating at a restaurant, has been operating in the U.S. for a few years. The kennels are made of aluminum, and they are air-conditioned and connected to the Internet, so that owners can know how their pets are doing at all times. The service costs users 30 cents a minute. According to the company’s data, it has a presence in 17 North American states.
“With DogSpot, you don’t have to leave your dog at home when you go for a walk, and you don’t have to resign yourself to leaving it tied up and unattended while you shop. Our kennels are cozy, high-tech enclosures on sidewalks near places that want to be friendly to your pet, but can’t allow dogs inside,” the company says on its website.
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