Spain has passed a landmark law on animal welfare, which will increase prison sentences for those who mistreat animals. The law was passed on Thursday, accompanied by a reform of the penal code.
This new law is an important step for animal rights in Spain, as it represents the first law on animal welfare since the country’s restoration of democracy. The new law will require compulsory training for dog owners and will prohibit them from leaving their pets alone for more than 24 hours. The sterilization of cats will also be compulsory, except on farms. Animal rights associations have emphasized the importance of birth control to avoid abandonment.
The reform of the penal code, which accompanies the law, increases the penalties for mistreatment, with offenders facing up to a year and a half in prison if the animal requires veterinary care. The penalty increases to two years if the animal dies, and even three years in the event of aggravating circumstances. Until now, the maximum penalty for animal abuse resulting in death was 18 months in prison.
It is important to note that these measures mainly apply to domestic animals and do not concern farm animals or hunting dogs. The fate of the latter had caused divisions within the left-wing government between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists, who favoured excluding hunting dogs from the bill, and Podemos, who opposed it. Bullfighting will also not be affected by the legal changes.
The law also reinforces supervision of pet breeders. This is a crucial step in ensuring that pet breeders are held accountable for the health and well-being of the animals in their care.
Spain has granted the right to joint custody for pets since the beginning of 2020, and they are now considered “living beings endowed with sensitivity” and no longer simply “things”. Several European countries have already modified their civil codes to recognize the living and sensitive nature of animals, and this new law puts Spain on the same path.
In conclusion, this law is a significant achievement for animal welfare in Spain. It will put an end to the impunity of people mistreating animals and represents a progress that corresponds to the sensitivity of Spanish citizens who want to protect animals. The new law is a step towards a more humane society, where the well-being of animals is valued and protected.