Spanish law no longer considers animals as “objects”

Spain has adopted a new law on animal welfare recognizing animals as sentient beings. The country will no longer consider pets and wildlife as “objects”, according to the law.

Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies, adopted the new law. It received majority approval, except by the far-right Vox party, which opposed the legislation.

Animals will now benefit from greater legal protection under the law. Although wild animals are included in the legislation, it largely protects domestic animals. In the event of a divorce or separation, the general welfare of an animal must first be addressed before it is separated from its owners. The law also prohibits the abuse or abandonment of animals.

“It is a step forward and it says that in separations and divorces, the arrangement that will be applied to animals will take into account not only the interests of humans, but also of the animal”, explained María González Lacabex. . González is a member of INTERcids, an animal welfare organization.

The law updates the Spanish Civil Code, the Mortgage Law and the Law on Civil Procedure. It was first introduced in 2017. However, it was only presented to Congress this year – passing Spain’s upper house in September – due to political upheaval in the 2019 general election. in the country.

Spanish animal welfare laws

Before the law was passed, a Madrid judge granted shared custody of a dog to a separating couple.

While this decision is rare, the law will be a lifelong step forward for pets like dogs and cats. In the case of divorces, Guillermo Díaz, a legislator from Ciudadanos, explained that before the law was passed, “animals were not considered different from a television”.

“Those who are violent against animals are also potentially violent against humans,” he added. “We are the only species that recognizes the suffering of others. And as such, we have an obligation to prevent this suffering.

But the new law does not address other cases of animal cruelty, namely bullfighting. Bullfighting is inherently cruel to animals. It’s already banned in at least 100 cities in Spain, according to animal rights group PETA. But it’s still legal in the country.

Spain joins a growing list of countries recognizing animals as sentient beings. In November, the UK amended its Animal Welfare Bill to give additional protections to cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans, whose susceptibility was not previously recognized. In 2019, the Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in Australia to recognize animals as sentient beings. France, Brussels and New Zealand are other countries to adopt similar laws.

About the Author

PERSONAL WRITER | LOS ANGELES, CA Audrey writes on sustainability, food and entertainment. She holds a bachelor’s degree in audiovisual journalism and political science.

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