Spain has introduced what I would consider to be tough new animal welfare laws under the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Welfare of Animals. The law is controversial and I can understand why. It is tougher than animal welfare laws in the UK which is known to have some of the most comprehensive in the world. I wonder how well this Spanish legislation will be enforced. Enforcement is everything. Without it you don’t have a law.
Here are 17 facts about this new law which may surprise you:
- Leaving your pet dog tied up outside a Spanish supermarket while you pop inside to buy some food has become a crime since last Friday.
- Leaving your pet dog or cat on a balcony of your home is a crime.
- Leaving your cat or dog inside an occupied vehicle is also a crime.
- Cats must be micro-chipped and sterilised by six months of age unless you are a breeder. This has been compulsory since September 29 and it applies to all cats and dogs who have access to the outdoors, which implies it doesn’t apply to full-time indoor cats! I find that strange.
- If you leave your dog to wander in a public place off its leash you will have committed a crime.
- Pet insurance has become compulsory although this has not come into force because a new government has yet to be formed in Spain as a result of inconclusive election results in July. The pet insurance must be of hundred thousand euros for civil liability. It will be obligatory for all pets including gerbils and budgerigars.
- Potential pet owners have to sit an exam to assess if they are capable of caring for an animal!
- All pet owners will have to register the animals on a central database. This is compulsory cat and dog registration which is a very big step. It has great advantages if it can be enforced properly because you can detect people who abuse animals and you can return lost animals to their owners.
- Companion animals cannot be left alone for more than three days. If they are left alone longer than 72 hours it is considered abandonment.
- Pet shops have been banned from selling dogs, cats and ferrets throughout Spain. They have been given 12 months to comply.
- Backyard breeding has been banned and breeding can only be carried out by registered professionals.
- Veterinarians can only euthanise an animal if there are clear medical reasons for doing so. In other words, euthanasia has to be genuine euthanasia and not killing. So, for example, a dog owner cannot have their pet euthanised by a vet because they think their dog is behaving badly. Further, animal shelters are prohibited from euthanising animals if they are overcrowded.
- All domestic animals must be properly vaccinated.
- The Spanish government has decided to scrap the dangerous dog breeds list. In its place there will be a new control based upon the sociability evaluation of larger animals. Comment: this will please Nathan Winograd!
- Dog owners both new and existing will have to take a training course on pet care. The course will be free and quite short and it can be taken online. Those excluded are people in charge of hunting, guard or working dogs.
- Dog owners have to take out a civil liability insurance policy to the tune of hundred thousand euros which covers third parties. I’m told that the basic package costs €24 per year.
- The sanctions are steep. Minor offences carry fines of between 500-€10,000 while more serious crimes will carry a fine of between €10,001 and €50,000. In fact, fines can go up to between €50,001-€200,00!
My thanks to (1) The Times newspaper today Oct, 2nd 2023 and (2) Murcia Today for filling in the gaps.
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