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DOGS

Surfs Pup! Barcelona opens its first dog-friendly beach

After years of campaigning, Barcelona city authorities finally opened a designated dog-friendly area of the beach.

Surfs Pup! Barcelona opens its first dog-friendly beach
One end of Barcelona's city beach has been given over to dogs. Photo: Nathan Rupert / Flickr

A fenced off area at the far end of the city’s long stretch of sandy beach has been fenced off specifically to allow our four-legged friends the freedom to run over the sand and leap through the waves.

Measuring just 1,250 square meters the area has been equipped with state-of-the-art dog urinals, fountains for dogs to drink from, and specially adapted showers to rinse off the salty seawater and sand off canine coats.

Opened this week, it will be available until September 25th under a pilot scheme that could be extended next summer.

“This space was chosen with specific technical criteria months ago, when we decided to respond to the historic requests by dog owners,” said Eva Herrero, the Ecology Commissioner for Barcelona.

The zone, located at the furthest end of the 4.5km long Levant beach, is limited to one hundred dogs and owners are expected to keep control of their pets and scoop up after them.

READ MORE: How to find dog friendly beaches in Spain

But the pilot scheme was not popular with some locals who complain that there are insufficient resources to ensure dogs are kept under control and will not venture onto other parts of the beach or bother bathers. 

Others claimed the designated zone was clearly not enough to cater for a city that has at least 41,000 dogs registered although animal charities admitted that it was “a start”.

“It’s not a very big space,” said Anna Bayle the Barcelona spokesman for Pacma, Spain’s animal rights party. “The few dogs allowed in will be somewhat confined”.

Most beaches impose strict restrictions against dogs and impose hefty fines and only a very few allow dogs in the summer months. A new interactive map helps owners locate dog-friendly beaches.

 

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SPRING

Danger: toxic caterpillar plague creeps across Spain despite cold winter

Dog walkers need to be particularly vigilant for a tiny but deadly creature that could kill your pet.

Danger: toxic caterpillar plague creeps across Spain despite cold winter
Photo: Ayuntamiento Utrera

The first signs of spring are welcome to most but the winter thaw brings with it, the threat of a tiny, but highly toxic pest: the Pine Processionary Caterpillar  (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa).

“They pose a major risk to children and adults causing dermatitis, eye damage and severe allergic reaction and in pets even death,”  Milagros Fernandez de Lezeta, director of Spain's Pest Control Association (ANECPLA), told The Local.

And this year, despite extreme winter conditions brought by Storm Filomena last month, they have already been spotted in areas across Spain from A Coruña in the northwest to Sevilla in the south.

Pest control group Rentokil warned that the cold temperatures had done little to kill off the pests. “They can survive in temperatures of minus 12ºC”.

 

 


 

The eggs are laid in candyfloss-like nests in pine trees where they remain during the cold winter months.

As the temperature starts to rise with the approach of spring, the caterpillars hatch and drop to the ground to search for food.

They can easily be spotted moving head to tail in a procession to form the conspicuous snake-like lines for which they are named.

The caterpillars, measuring between three and four centimeters in length, are particularly dangerous to young children who may be curious enough to touch them, and to dogs, who may attempt to eat them.

Each caterpillar is covered with tiny barbed hairs containing a protein called thaumetopoein.


Photo: Ana /Flickr

Dogs are the main victims as when they come into contact with the caterpillars can pick up the hairs on their paws, which are then licked because of the irritation and the poison spreads to the mouth.

They could suffer breathing difficulties, vomiting or start foaming at the mouth and should be taken urgently to the nearest veterinary clinic for an immediate cortisone and antibiotic injection.

Sometimes amputation of the tongue or nose is the only course of action and of they reach the throat can cause suffocation and result in death.

The risk is particularly high in pine forests but is not confined exclusively to them and can occur anywhere where pine trees grow, including city parks, private gardens and roadsides.

Many councils carry out spraying in muncipal parks to lessen the danger but they can't always be relied upon to eliminate the pest entirely.

So be vigilant!

IN PICS: Ten photos that will make you excited about spring in Spain

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