By Humphrey Carter
THE Mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer, is facing the threat of a major national and international campaign over the “poor” condition of some of Palma's carriage horses. The Spanish association for the protection of horses, SEPE, which two years ago launched a national campaign and sucessfully forced the Mayor of Mijas to improve the conditions and care of the donkey taxis in the town, is prepared to take similar action if Cirer fails to co-operate with the association. SEPE has the backing of over 40 animal welfare groups and associations across Europe and in the United States. The Malaga-based association is involved with animal welfare protection all over Spain and has decided to take action over the Palma carriage horses after “years of complaints from visitors to Majorca from all over the world”. Committee member Tony Bugg told the Bulletin yesterday that, as far as foreign visitors to Spain are concerned, the Palma horses appear to be the burning issue. “We have received a steady flow of letters, complaints and photographs over the years and this year there appears to be greater concern than ever,” he said. “We have been contacted from across Europe and the States by animal welfare groups, including the International League for the protection of Horses, to which tourists to Majorca have reported the poor state of the horses,” he said. “We understand that some kind of new inspections have been introduced this year, but the city council has failed to answer any of out letters or faxes. If we continue to hear nothing from the town hall, we are going to launch a major campaign,” he added. The campaign is being headed by a Barcelona-based international lawyer Mercedes Rosello whose parents live in Majorca. “We want to know what the inspections involve and how regular they are. “We want to know what conditions the horses are working in, whether they are fit to work, the correct weight, well shod, are parked in the shade and are given a good rest at some point during the day,” Bugg said. “We want to know what Palma city council's code of conduct is for the carriage horses and confirmation that it is enforced,” he said. “Considering there are carriage horses in many Spanish cities like Alicante and Seville, the majority of complaints we have received since we (SEPE) started in 1996 are about the horses in Palma,” he added. “While Palma city council may consider the condition of the horses is up to standard, those standards appear to be well below those in the rest of Europe - hence we are still receiving complaints,” he added. The Bulletin has also received letters over the past few weeks from visitors concerned about the condition of the horses in Palma. SEPE is confident that, should it launch a campaign, there will also be a considerable amount of support from Majorca residents. infoUsepeonline.net

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