El Refugio del Burrito, a Spanish subsidiary of The Donkey Sanctuary, is campaigning through a petition to put a stop to a brutal fiesta that takes place every Shrove Tuesday in the Spanish village of Villanueva de la Vera which sees a helpless donkey being dragged through crowded streets in the name of tradition.
Each year, villagers and visitors from the surrounding area of Villanueva de la Vera celebrate the carnival of Peropalo during which a donkey is ridden through the village by a drunken rider and is subjected to degrading and cruel treatment.
The donkey is forced along the streets while an increasingly drunken crowd shout, ring bells and fire guns into the air around the animal. In previous years, Sanctuary staff have also witnessed the crowd forcing alcohol down the donkey’s throat. Often, confusion and exhaustion will cause the donkey to fall to the floor and it is then aggressively dragged and pushed to its feet to continue the long route around the village.
It had been hoped that the practice would come to an end in 2003 after the parliament of Junta de Extremadura passed a law (Ley 5/2002) forbidding the use of animals in festivals where the animal receives cruel mistreatment, however, in practice this has not been enforced and a donkey continues to be used.
The Donkey Sanctuary is asking supporters to sign an online petition to force the local authorities to enforce animal cruelty laws and ban this cruel fiesta once and for all.
Staff from The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish counterpart will once again be attending the festival to monitor the treatment of the donkey and offer help if at all possible.