Many residents keep dogs, but there are clear rules that they are often unaware of. Moreover, the authorities actively encourage the public to report irresponsible owners, and fines are often considerable.
Throughout the Canaries, the registration of pets is legally required. Although this is done at local Ayuntamientos, some are more conscientious than others, and owners may be told that there is no actual need, or requirement, to register their pet. Please see the links page for links to local authorities and particular requirements.
Where all councils agree, however, and where the rules are rigid, is in respect of the further requirements for dogs considered “potentially dangerous” (perros potencialmente peligrosos). Such dogs are defined as follows by Royal Decree 287/2002 which itself is a continuation of 50/1999; there is also a Canarian law, and local Ayuntamientos too will often have their own, usually stricter, criteria beyond this generic descriptions in the national and regional legislation (see HERE for links to all these).
1. Those belonging to any of the following breeds and their crosses:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Tosa Inu
- Akita Inu
2. Those animals that have all or many of the following characteristics:
- Strong musculature, powerful or athletic constitution, robustness, agility, vigor and endurance.
- Strong character and marked courage.
- Short hair.
- Thoracic perimeter between 60 and 80 cm, shoulder height of between 50 and 70 cm, and weight over 20 kg.
- Voluminous, square, robust head, with a wide and large skull and muscular and pronounced cheeks. Strong and large jaws, robust, wide and deep snout.
- Broad, short and muscled neck.
- Broad, thick, deep chest, with arched ribs and short and muscled back.
- Straight, parallel and robust forelegs and muscular hindquarters, with relatively long hindlegs at a moderate angle.
3. Those dogs with a record of aggressive tendencies or prior attacks on humans or other animals.
All dogs covered by the act must be taken out on a lead – a fixed lead of a maximum 2 metre length, not an extendable one – and wearing a muzzle. They must be tied up even on private property that is not fully enclosed; and their owners must have a licence and public liability insurance of €150,000, proof of which must be carried with them when they walk their dog.
The authorities consider that we are all responsible when it comes to ensuring that tragedies such as the killing in 2010 of a Santa Cruz toddler by the family pitbull become a thing of the past. Fines vary from municipality to municipality, but are considerable, and can go from double figures up to €15,000 for anyone who fails to comply with the law. Fines at the lower end are for owners who do not muzzle such dogs; top end fines will be for failing to register and not having insurance, repeated offences, and so on.
To clarify the rules:
- owners cannot be children
- owners must not have a criminal record
- owners must register their dog with their local townhall and pay a local tax when they do so
- owners must be physically and psychologically accredited by their local town hall
- owners must have public liability insurance to a minimum of €150,000
Ayuntamientos will create a file for the animal. It will include photographs (owners supply two when they register the dog) and record the number of its chip.