Animal abuse in Spain: Legislative change considers pets in Spain as sentient beings, with welfare taken into account in the event of a couple’s separation | Society

The sale of pets in stores should be banned under the planned legislation.Claudio alvarez

From today Wednesday, animals will be considered in Spain as sentient beings, that is to say that they can no longer be seized, mortgaged, abandoned, mistreated or withdrawn from one of their owners. in the event of separation or divorce. These changes are now in force in Spanish law and modify three pieces of legislation: the Civil Code, the Law on Mortgages and the Law on Civil Procedure.

However, these are not the only changes underway. Coalition government junior partner Unidas Podemos has been preparing an animal welfare bill since October and hopes to see it approved in the coming months. This legislation includes stronger measures, such as a ban on the killing of animals without just cause, a veto on the use of wild animals in circuses and a ban on the sale of pets in stores. In addition, a project to reform the Spanish penal code should tighten the penalties for animal abuse. This battery of measures aims to change the relationship between Spaniards and animals.

Among the new measures in force from today are regulations on shared custody of animals in the event of a couple’s separation. For example, a judge can modify the conditions of keeping an animal if necessary, as well as establish how the costs of the animal are to be met between the two parties, and even decide on its destination in the event of non- OK.

In addition, judges will be able to limit parents’ access to children in the event of separation if they have mistreated their pets, whether in the form of indirect violence or gender violence in order to control or victimize their ex. spouse or their offspring.

Pets can also be included in wills. But if they are not, they will be returned to the heirs who will claim them. If this is not possible, they will be handed over either to an administration or to an abandoned animal collection center, until succession procedures can be established. If none of the heirs wants to take them over, the administration can hand them over to a third party for their care and protection.

The new legislation stipulates that if someone finds a lost animal, it must be returned to its owner or the person in charge of its care, unless there are indications of abuse or abandonment, which must be communicated to the competent authorities.

Meanwhile, the mortgage law amendment excludes farm or industrial animals, as well as pets, from mortgages, while the civil procedure law amendment prevents the seizure of pets to cover debts. unpaid.

Nuria Máximo, director of the Animals and Society Chair at Rey Juan Carlos University, believes that these changes reflect “how society is changing its view of animals” and increasingly respect them. “There has been a change in the sensitivity of the population to the way we treat animals, especially those with whom we live. If you ask someone, they will know that their pet is not a thing, but the law has not reflected that until now, which is why there might be such absurd situations such as the possibility of grab a horse, ”she explains.

Animal welfare associations see these reforms as very positive. Nuria Menéndez de Llano, director of the Observatory for Animal Justice and Defense, behind the collection of signatures that preceded the ongoing changes, believes it is “right that this anachronism be corrected”. “For them, being recognized as sentient beings is historic,” she continues. “Before, they were reduced to the status of a thing, and now the law recognizes them as living beings, with the capacity to think and feel.”

The lawyer points out that with these changes, Spain is following in the footsteps of other European countries – such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Portugal – but with more advanced legislation. “This is an intense and far-reaching reform.

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Unidas Podemos’ animal welfare bill is due to reach Cabinet in the coming weeks, before it starts making its way through the lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies, later this year.

The text focuses on companion animals and will seek, among other measures, to prevent animals from being slaughtered without a valid reason – this would have the effect of preventing the death of animals that end up in shelters and are not adopted by anybody.

Currently, between 150,000 and 300,000 animals are abandoned each year in Spain. The bill aims to combat this situation by creating a registry for the protection of animals, as well as another registry of the people who work with them. There will be a third list of people prohibited from owning animals.

Two of the most controversial elements of the future law include the ban on leaving a dog unattended for more than 24 hours, as well as the removal from the list of dangerous dogs. José Miguel Doval, president of the Royal Spanish Canine Society, believes that dog surveillance is difficult to control. “Animals should not be left alone, but trying to establish such strict criteria will be difficult to apply outside of the time it is reported,” he says.

As for dangerous dogs, Doval is in favor of the future plan. “The current legislation is unfair,” he said. “Ordering a dog from birth, just because of its breed, to always have to wear a muzzle and a tighter leash is not acceptable.” The future law seems better to us than what existed before.

Other measures included in the future law include the aforementioned ban on wild animals in circuses, as is already in place in some regions, as well as ending the sale of pets in stores. In addition, the breeding and sale of animals by ordinary citizens will be banned, meaning that only professionals will be able to do so, subject to animal welfare guarantees. Raising animals by private individuals contributes to the high number of abandoned animals.

The legislation will also establish the obligation to sterilize pets if they live with other animals of the opposite sex, and with whom they could reproduce. The law will also promote awareness campaigns against the abuse and abandonment of animals.

The ongoing reforms of the Penal Code, which will tighten the penalties for animal abuse, are still only at the very beginning of public consultation. It is a step of transparency which precedes the passage of the reform in the Congress.

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