Mijas typifies the problems facing donkeys in many Mediterranean tourist attractions. Fueled by tourist from all over the world looking for something to do to fill their holidays, a trip to Mijas and a ride on the donkeys seems like an innocent enough pastime.
But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that is the problem.
Harsh treatment, terrible stabling and inadequate veterinary and hoof care makes the donkeys lives a misery.
I spent many years working on trying to improve the working conditions for donkeys in places like Mijas and Santorini. My approach was to try to work with the owners and local authorities to improve conditions and implement codes of practice, but the sad truth is that many years down the line not much has improved.
Unfortunately it is profit that drives the owners and the authorities, unless the latter think that they can gain more votes by acting like they care.
The truth is that codes of practice and promises do not work unless they are backed up by action and in most cases the owners are left to get away with whatever they want.
I am not saying that donkeys should not have a purpose, in fact if done correctly many donkey projects, such as animal assisted therapy and donkey walking can benefit donkeys providing stimulation and security for donkeys who may otherwise find themselves in trouble.
So what is the right way forward? Well in my opinion the only thing that makes a difference is to either effect the purses of the operators, or the credibility of the authorities. If the fee paying public refuse to ride the donkeys or the authorities receive lots of negative press then, things may just change for the better
I have a good friend Michael Owens who lives in Mijas and has worked tirelessly, not only for the donkeys of Mijas, but also for the abandoned cats dogs and many other animals.
Michael is currently running a petition to improve conditions for the Mijas donkeys which you can sign here.
Please do sign and add your voice to the growing number who are against cruelty to animals in the tourism industry.