Pet dogs dress up for St Anthony blessing in Madrid church

Wearing his Sunday best and arriving in a pram, Chispi was one of dozens of dogs blessed by a priest in Madrid on Sunday to celebrate the patron saint of pets.

Pet dogs dress up for St Anthony blessing in Madrid church
A man has his dog blessed at St Anthony's Church in Madrid's Chueca district. Photo: Pierre-Phillippe Marcou/AFP
“In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit, I bless you. Amen,” said father Angel as he sprinkled a few drops of holy water on Chispi's head.
The 10-year-old shih tzu was wearing a special red coat for the occasion.
“We hope this will allow him to live another year longer,” said Chispi's owner, 56-year-old Maria Luz Gomes, who comes every year to the festival all the way from Cantabria in the north of Spain.
Mar Lopez, 45, travelled 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Zarzalejo to the capital but brought her two dogs, eight-year-old Gromit and Frida, one.
“I like this church, it accepts everyone. Animals too,” she said. “Saint Antony loved and blessed animals. He said they were God's creatures and that's why we bless pets here,” father Joaquim told AFP at the St Anthony church in Chueca, a Madrid neighbourhood popular with the gay community.
Saint Anthony, whose actual feast is on January 17, was a Christian monk born in Egypt in the third century.
Sometimes known as Anthony the Great he is considered by some to be the father of all monks. A hermit and Spain's patron saint of animals, the likes of Velazquez, Bosch and Di Cosimo painted him alongside a pig.

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Spanish town hires pet detectives in latest battle against dog poo

In Spain’s latest battle in the war on dog poo, a town near Salamanca has hired private detectives to punish those who fail to clean up after their pets.

Spanish town hires pet detectives in latest battle against dog poo
Detectives have been hired to track down irresponsible dog owners. Photo: Alice Huseyinoglu

This week, Carbajose de la Sagrada, a municipality in Salamanca, has commissioned a special unit of private detectives to monitor dog poo in public spaces, with the hope of raising awareness about the responsibility that comes with owning a pet, and fining guilty dog-walkers.

After the evidence has been collected by these detectives, it will be up to the local police force to press charges and issue fines.

The new initiative has been introduced following a barrage of complaints from citizens about the ‘uncivil’ behaviour of some residents, as well as the failure of previous awareness campaigns to put an end to their repeated crimes.

The mayor of the municipality, Pedro Samuel Martín, met with pet owners a few weeks ago to discuss a solution to the ongoing dilemma. He said he hoped the new measures, following in the footsteps of towns such as Colmenar Viejo, would improve the state of public spaces, and lead to greater 'coexistence' in the town.

This is just the latest attempt by town councils to combat the issue of dog dirt. In 2013, a viral campaign in Brunete, a small town just outside Madrid, saw officials box up waste and mail it back guilty pet owners.

Photo: Depositphotos

The town of Colmenar Viejo, also near Madrid, hired incognito detectives in 2014 to film owners who left their dog's poo lying around, and in 2016, Maslata, near Valencia, ordered residents to register their dog’s DNA through mandatory blood samples, so the owners who failed to clean up after their dogs could be traced.

In a battle to clean up the captial, Madrid's mayor introduced a 2016 law, giving dog poo offenders the choice between a €750 fine or a weekend of cleaning duty.

By Alice Huseyinoglu

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