MADRID´S dog owners received good news on February 9, as city authorities confirm that dogs can travel for free around one of Europe´s most canine-friendly cities.
Cristina Cifuentes, the city´s community president made the announcement, confirming free passage for muzzle-wearing dogs on a lead from February 10.
The updated regulations put Madrid´s vast underground system on an equal footing with other European capitals and came in response to a campaign by dog owners in the capital. The new rules have several caveats each owner must observe.
As well as the muzzle and lead, which must be no more than 50 cm long, dogs have to travel in the last carriage of metro trains and the freebie applies to those riding in off-peak times, meaning that trains running between 7.30am and 9.30am, 2pm and 4pm, and 6pm and 8 pm, are still off limits. However, during July and August and on weekends and bank holidays, no restrictions regarding times will apply.
To date, only small dogs enclosed in pet carriers and dogs for the blind and visually impaired have been allowed on trains.
Social media erupted to life as dog lovers and their opponents came head to head. Most of those who did express concerns about sharing a train carriage with pooch passengers objected to the possible doggy smells and potential for triggering allergies or phobias.
One resident took to Ms Cifuentes Facebook page to air his views, saying “I´m allergic and can´t go near a dog – I suffocate. They have more rights than me? And I love dogs”. Other users questioned how far the new scheme would go, by writing “why stop with dogs.”
The controversial move could also upset Madrid parents, who have to pay for children over six years old.
Have your say: What do you think of the new Madrid regulations? Do dogs travel for free on trains or buses in your region?