Animals in Spain will no longer be considered as “objects” by the law thanks to new legislation passed on Thursday by Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies.
From now on, animals will be treated as “sentient beings,” and as such will have a different legal standing than an inanimate object.
They will no longer be able to be seized, abandoned, mistreated or separated from one of their owners in the case of a divorce or separation, without having their wellbeing and protection taken into account.
The new law to modify the legal framework of animals was approved on Thursday with wide support from Spain’s Congress – only the far-right Vox party voted against the measure.
The legislation changes the Civil Code, Mortgage Law and Civil Procedure Law, and broadly applies to all animals, whether they are domesticated or wild.
Animals were already recognized as sentient beings, with rights and interests that must be taken into account, in European law, regional administrative laws and even Spain’s Criminal Code.
But this recognition was not present in the Spanish Civil Code, which covers issues relating to property, family and obligations.
This meant that lawyers did not have a legal basis to address certain problems, such as what to do with pets in divorce cases.
“It’s a step forward and it says that in separations and divorces, the arrangement that will be applied to the animals will take into account not only the interests of the humans, but also of the animal,” explained María González Lacabex, from INTERcids, a legal organization specializing in animal protection.
“We are the only species that recognizes the suffering of others and as such we have an obligation to prevent that suffering”
Guillermo Díaz, Ciudadanos lawmaker.
The process to get the law approved has been long and winding.
It was first proposed in 2017, but did not move forward due to the upheaval caused by Spain’s two general elections in April and November of 2019.
It was not until April of this year that the initiative appeared before Congress, where it was supported by all parties except Vox.
In September, the law was then approved by Spain’s upper house, the Senate, which introduced some modifications.
And on Thursday, it was given the final green light by Congress.
The conservative Popular Party (PP) largely supported the text of the document, but warned the coalition government, which is led by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and junior partner Unidas Podemos, that it will not back greater protections for animals.
The warning was in reference to the Social Rights Ministry, headed by Ione Belarra from Unidas Podemos, which is preparing a draft for a new animal welfare law that includes stricter measures to prevent animal trafficking and abuse.
Teresa Aguada, a lawmaker from the PP, called on the Socialists not to “cede to the extremist pressure of your partners [Unidas Podemos] to attack our traditions, culture and rural world.” (!!)
Most of Spain’s congressional parties, however, welcomed the law’s approval. “It’s a moral victory in a country where 200,000 animals are abandoned each year,” said Juantxo López de Uralde, from Unidas Podemos.
Sonia Guaita, from the PSOE, pointed out that similar legislation exists in most European countries, adding: “Those who are violent against animals are potentially violent against humans as well.”
Guillermo Díaz, from the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), also defended the law. “We are the only species that recognizes the suffering of others and as such we have an obligation to prevent that suffering,” he said, explaining that up until now, “animals were not considered different from a television” in divorce cases.
The sole voice of dissent came from Vox lawmaker Ángel López Maraver, who is the former president of the Spanish Hunting Federation.
He described the law as “insanity, nonsense, stupidity. It humanizes animals and dehumanizes man.”
And I mean…A small milestone in the Spanish kingdom, where animal cruelty is widespread and where the judiciary still looks the other way when prosecuting ill-treatment.This is the result of years of pressure from animal welfare organizations
The reform could also give the state a new weapon in the fight against the abandoning of dogs and cats
The bill that Spain’s Conservative People’s Party introduced to the national parliament makes it clear that the abuse of animals is not allowed, and neither is the abandoning of pets.
The situation with the animals in Spain is (let’s write “was”) catastrophic.
The previous Animal Welfare Act does not deserve its name in every autonomous community in Spain; often enough it just legalizes the killing of unwanted animals.
In most regions there is hardly a word for animal shelter, as a rule there are animal killing stations in which animals that are picked up are killed after a short period of time if no one claims them.
It is estimated that in Spain 300,000 abandoned animals end up in state animal shelters, known in Spain as “perreras”, every year.
These perreras are operated either privately or by the cities.
Animals are only kept here for a short time, usually 10 to 20 days.
Then the animals come to the killing station.
Many cases of animal abuse in Spain concern hunting dogs.
We have often reported on the miserable life of the Spanish greyhounds in our blog;
They are used en masse for hunting rabbits or for competition – at least as long as they are fast enough.
Three years on average, then they are sorted out, that is: they are hanged, drowned, starved to death or tortured to die in a mass grave.
Therefore, the new legislation is a light of hope in the backward handling of the Spaniards with animals.
Now animals (at least some animals) are to be regarded as living, sentient beings by right.
That is a very good basis, the Spaniards must get the best of this.
Animals are living beings, not possessions.
A fact that should have been a matter of course and legally protected for a long time. And not just in Spain
My best regards to all, Venus