A new draft bill for the protection and rights of animals in Spain was introduced today, October 5, by the Ministry of Social Rights.
The central government has, in recent months, been focusing on animal rights and according to the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, this new decree will help promote responsible ownership while at the same time tackling the “high degree of abandonment of animals” in Spain.
The new bill will determine requirements that will affect both wild and domestic animals, as well as ‘feline colonies’. It will also affect pet owners as the government says it wants pets to never be left alone. That is why the bill states that it is forbidden to leave pets such as cats or ferrets alone for three consecutive days.
Special emphasis has been placed on dogs, as dog owners will be forbidden to leave their canine friends alone for more than 24 hours. Also, anyone thinking of giving a dog a home will be required to attend an accredited training course before actually getting one. The content of the course will be decided by regulation.
“We are going to establish the obligation to preserve animal welfare,” said Ione Belarra, the Minister of Social Rights. She said that she has also ensured that the law “will advance the end of cruel enjoyment of animals”. This will be done by banning the national level of pigeon shooting and cockfighting, whilst bullfighting, however, has been left out.
It has been said that the purpose of the draft is to help facilitate “proper responsible ownership of animals.”
Dogs will also no longer be classed as “potentially dangerous animals”, however, the government is considering conducting sociability studies that could lead to the provision of the dog needing “special handling” if it is thought to need it. This would include putting constraints on the places and spaces in which the dog can inhabit to prevent them from escaping.
If an animal should become lost, it must be reported within 48 hours, otherwise, it will be classed as abandonment.
This week also saw Congress approve a change to the Civil Code, which will now give Spanish courts the right to deny joint custody to parents who have been convicted of animal abuse crimes.
The new bill doesn’t just focus on domestic animals, it also takes into account cultural activities and states clearly that animals used in circuses and festivals must, at all times, be treated with dignity and must never be mistreated or humiliated.
The same goes for animals held in captivity, they must be provided with as natural an environment as is possible but if an animal is being used for scientific research or as part of a conservation project, some exceptions will apply.
Another focus within the bill is pet shops, which will no longer be allowed to sell “companion animals”, they can however still sell fish.
As for the ‘feline colonies’, they will be protected by the “citizen collaboration for the care of community cats” that is included in the draft. This protection means that the slaughter of community cats is not allowed unless there is a reason for euthanasia but this must be certified.
According to Sergio Garcia Torres, the general director of Animal Rights, the law will mark “a before and after in the protection of animals” in Spain.
He said that “We present a law of zero sacrifice. Animals that have been abandoned will not be killed and, for this, we put in place a series of tools to achieve zero abandonment.”
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