The new Spanish law regulates the rights of pets in the country, Source: Unsplash

Spanish law mandates that dogs can’t be left alone for more than a day

Spanish law mandates that dogs can’t be left alone for more than a day

The Animal Welfare Law was subject of vigorous debate in the past several months

The Spanish Congress finally approved the amended draft of the controversial and much-debated Law on Animal Welfare and Animal Rights on Thursday, 16 March. The law was initially passed at the beginning of February, but it underwent changes proposed by the Senate.

The final version now regulates animal ownership and grants rights to pets and animals in captivity as “conscious beings”. Nevertheless, following months of debates, certain types of dogs, considered to be professional have been excluded – these are hunting dogs, shepherding dogs and police dogs.

According to the new law, dogs cannot be left unsupervised for more than 24 hours and cats for more than three days, as this is considered cruel and now it will be also illegal.

Other aspects of the law

The Senate removed the proposed obligation of tests for the owners together with their dogs to assess their aptitude to function in the social sphere. Likewise, it will be no longer mandatory for the public administrations to sterilize and put an identifying microchip on each of the cats that make up a feline colony.

Spain will also require pet owners to take out liability insurance for their animals. Cruelty to animals will be punished with fines of up to 200,000 euros or even imprisonment. If a pet is being abused by its owner, the animal will be taken from them and given to an animal shelter.

The ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) who were the initiators of the legislative proposal had already hailed the law as a "historic advance" and argued that it would protect all animals from mistreatment and abandonment despite not specifically addressing hunting dogs. 

The Socialists backpedalled in December on regulating hunting dogs, fearing the issue could push rural voters toward right-leaning parties in a general election this year. Spain's hunting industry is worth an estimated 5 billion euros a year and has a powerful lobby.



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