Animals get their own rights in Spain

Animals get their own rights in Spain

Tshould be fine. There is actually a consensus on that. Nevertheless, few topics are discussed as controversially as animal welfare: Hardly any other draft in Spain has undergone as many changes on its way through Parliament as the “Law on the Protection, Rights and Welfare of Animals”. After a heated argument in the left-wing minority government, it was finally passed on Thursday. It will not come into force until September, as there are still many details to be settled. Hamster owners and dog owners are unsettled.

Nobody is really happy with the law, which “obliges all people to treat animals as sentient beings”. It is designed to ensure their dignity, prevent their abandonment and punish mistreatment. Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra, who drafted the bill, is proud that animals now have rights of their own. But the politician from the left-wing alternative Podemos party is angry at the Prime Minister’s PSOE party Pedro Sanchezbecause the coalition partner buckled in front of the “hunting lobby”.

More and more exceptions

The Socialists fear not only the anger of the hunters, but also that of the bullfighting supporters with the forthcoming regional, local and parliamentary elections. There have already been demonstrations. Concern is growing, especially in rural areas, that the new law is only a first step in banning hunting altogether. The right-wing populist Vox party is attracting voters who do not want the left to take bullfighting away from them.

Remains allowed: bullfights, such as the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona

Remains allowed: bullfights, such as the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona

Image: dpa

In the end, the catalog of animals that are exempt from the new law became longer and longer: they apply to hunting, tracking and shepherd dogs as well as fighting bulls. There are also exceptions for production and laboratory animals (including mink farms) and animals living in the wild. In the end, the homeless got the right to own a dog.

The Senate also softened the proposed regulations for dog owners. Instead of a dog handler’s license, only a free online course “Responsible pet ownership” has to be completed, the details of which still have to be regulated, as the newspaper “El Mundo” reports. The test for “assessing their suitability for social behavior” is therefore not required for dogs.

All clear for hamster owners

There will probably not be a hamster ban either. However, the positive list of wild animals that can be kept as pets has not yet been completed. Hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs are said to remain allowed and can be sold in pet shops as before – but not tortoises, parrots and most reptiles that are subject to the endangered species protection agreement.

Pet shops already fear their ruin. They are also prohibited from selling dogs, cats and ferrets. Anyone who wants to keep them must adopt them or purchase them from a breeder registered in the official register. All cats must also be spayed before they reach the age of six months. Exceptions only apply to cats from officially recognized pet breeders.

According to “El Mundo”, all animals that are on the positive list must be officially registered: the larger ones with a microchip, birds with a ring. The death of a hamster or canary must be reported. In addition to the identification number, the deregistration of the deceased pet must be accompanied by a document according to which an officially recognized company cremated or buried it.

The opposition criticizes that the new law regulates animal husbandry too much and makes it far too bureaucratic. It will be very difficult to correctly comply with the countless new regulations. It will be expensive for those who do not comply with them: The penalties range from a fine of 500 euros to 200,000 euros for serious violations.

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