Animal-rights groups have denounced the use of dogs by "mafias" organising beggars in Palma. They say that beggars can make significant amounts from "using puppies".
According to their complaint, litters of puppies are given birth to for the specific purpose of assisting with begging. The dogs, they claim, are mistreated. There has been one particular beggar, who goes by the name of Peter, who used to frequent the Plaça Espanya. The local police removed the dogs and they were accommodated at the Son Reus pound.
However, it would seem that the dogs were then returned once they had been chipped and vaccinated. Given the situation, animal-rights groups have written to Neus Truyol, councillor for animal welfare, and called on her to take away the dogs from this particular individual "immediately" and to ban begging with dogs.
The police note that the practice of using dogs is now common in Spain and it can generate good returns from begging - some hundreds of euros a day. "The mafias don't use cripples now, but they still want to make people feel sorry."
Begging with dogs is not confined to Palma. It is evident in other municipalities in Majorca.