December 16, 2017

In Spain, pets are no longer 'things' ...

MADRID - At last, in Spain, the moment has arrived that many animal lovers and protectors have fought for. By means of various legislative changes, pets are officially no longer "things" but "living beings with feelings". It is a big step forward in the world of animals in this country, making it possible to avoid animals being confiscated in case of divorce and possibly new laws being passed against animal abuse.

In order to make the leap from "cosas" (things)  to "seres vivos dotados de sensibilidad"(living feeling beings), changes must be made to the civil code so that pets can not be seized in a divorce, cannot be the reason for a mortgage being refused, and will also apply to livestock. The law on civil procedure will also need to be altered. If you would like to read more, please click the link on the Dutch Blog.

Since the article is in Dutch, here is a brief and translation.

Changes to the Civil Code mean that it no longer speaks of 'goods and property' but now speaks of 'animals, goods and property. The changes were made possible after the Spanish Congress handed over 250,000 signatures via the political party Cuidadanos and, collected by Justicia and Defensa Animal. Thanks to Cuidadanos, the other political parties were persuaded to vote and so the conservatives of the PP party had to accept the amendments to the law. But to give the PP credit, they further extended the text so as to ensure that the owner of a pet is allowed to enjoy it, but must also take care of it, respect it and not mistreat it or treat it badly because the right to own does not give any right to abuse it.

However, the political party PACMA while agreeing that the changes are very desirable, believes that the texts do not go far enough. Because while pets are now acknowledged to be "living beings with feelings" they remain "things" that can be sold including in shops or markets, used in a circus or other shows and places where they may be killed or injure. This includes, among other things, bullfighting, However, with the conservative PP government in power there is little chance that the suffering of bulls and bullfighting will be resolved.

A start has been made, but in order to be able to better protect the animals in general, more far reaching change is necessary. The highest level of protection and good welfare standards based on the condition of the animals and recognizing the psychological and physical sensitivity are fundamental for good protection as also stated in a European treaty. The direct consequence must be the recognition of the obligation not to inflict suffering, violence, fear or other inappropriate treatment on animals on the basis of legal penalties.

For anyone who may be interested, there are similar debates and petitions taking place in the United Kingdom at the moment. The United Kingdom is currently a signatory to the European Treaty which recognises animals as sentient beings. However, when Britain leaves the EU, animals will no longer have that protection and instead will be covered by earlier UK legislation which is weaker. However, many animal welfare organisations, politicians and individual do not feel this is adequate as it is not even as strong as the EU legislation. Laws have already been prepared that would go much further even than the EU legislation. The petitions and campaigns are demanding that this new legislation be put in place immediately, so that there will not be a gap in protection when we leave. 

As a matter of interest, why is Spain not already covered by the European treaty?

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