A BRITISH expat couple are facing fines of up to €601 EACH for walking their dogs during the coronavirus lockdown.
Peter Rees, 69 and his partner Anne, 56, were stopped by police in Rota in Cadiz on Tuesday while walking their westies Angus and Thomas.
The retired couple say they were within 350 metres of their home and believed they were in line with the restrictions outlined in the royal decree announced on March 14.
“A Policia Local car pulled up beside us and an agent asked us for ID before telling us we had to remain within 50 metres of our home,” Rees told the Olive Press.
“Then another car pulled up before they officially denounced us and said we could face a fine of between €100 and €600.”
The couple said they were shocked after having been told weeks before by a policeman that they were within their rights to walk their dogs along their usual route.
“For me it seems totally over the top, we want to follow the rules and would never have willingly broke them,” added Rees.
The former film industry executive, from Swansea, said there has not been enough clarity over dog walking.
“They could put signs up or at least tell people officially how far they are allowed to walk their dogs… the policeman told me just to take them out to do their business and take them straight back inside.
“But what about people with big dogs like an Alsatian? That seems cruel and unrealistic.”
Although it is generally forbidden for two people to walk a dog, that was not the reason given for the sanction, suggesting that each of the couple were permitted to walk a dog each.
In the report seen by the Olive Press, police cited ‘walking 1km away from their home’, which Rees claims was untrue.
“We were near the Plaza de Jesus which is at the most 350 metres from our property,” he claimed.
The couple told this paper they would be appealing the denuncia if fines are issued to the pair.
Since the nationwide lockdown was announced, dog walking has become a topic of contention, with many people using their furry friends as an excuse to violate the lockdown restrictions.
But it has also led to claims of over-zealous policing and unfair sanctions.
Many cities and regions have imposed their own rules in a bid to provide more clarity. Madrid limited a dog walk to 15 minutes while Alicante said owners must stay within 200 metres of their homes.
Cadiz does not seem to have announced any extra rules, however local animal rights organisation Upocranes advised last month that people only take short walks ‘near and around their homes’.
There is currently no official decree from the central government dictating how far you can walk your dog.
It means that all fines citing ‘walking a dog too far from home’ could be null and void.
The Interior Ministry said last week that local administrations are not allowed to interpret the Royal Decree by adding their own stipulations and norms. This includes introducing rules surrounding distance while dog walking.
Agents should only sanction dog walkers when they ‘detect suspicious activity or are clearly breaking the rules’ of the confinement measures, reported Diario Sur.
The guidelines from the decree state that dogs should be taken on short walks, depending on the physical need of each animal.
They must avoid contact with other dogs and walkers and owners must clean up after their pets.
Have you received a fine that you think was unjust during the COVID-19 lockdown? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org