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In Spain, pets are now considered “members of the family” – Liberation

Act for the livingcase

Entering into force this Wednesday, a new law makes these companions “full-fledged beings” with their own legal status. A mini-revolution in a country that has sometimes distinguished itself for its cruelty to animals.

Animals are no longer “things” or “objects”, but “sentient beings”. Since this Wednesday, the law, passed in December, making cats, dogs and other pets “beings in their own right”, officially entered into force in Spain. Henceforth they enjoy their own legal status. This small revolution involves changes in three normative texts, including the civil code.

Exclusion of inheritances

Thanks to the new legislation, pets are now considered genuine members of the family. A reality that makes the ultra right of Vox scream, the only group to have expressly opposed a law that reflects the evolution of Spanish society’s view of animals. “This law is an aberration, which flouts the traditional family concept and puts a son and a dog on the same level”, was scandalized in December, in Parliament, the deputy Angel López Maraver.

From now on, in the event of a divorce between two spouses, the judge will have to take into account the fate of a possible pet as if it were a child, when deciding whether or not to share custody. Similarly, he may oblige one of the two spouses to honor the costs related to the care and maintenance of the said animal, qualified as “animal support” by some critics of the legislation. In addition, if it is proven that one of the spouses is responsible for any mistreatment of the animal, then it must be removed. There is no longer any question of registering a cat, a dog or a parrot as part of an inheritance, in the same way as a piece of furniture or any material good, as was the case until now.

“Dechosify sentient beings”

“This historic change enshrines the end of the cruel treatment of humans towards animals, and especially towards those who live with us”, underlined the Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, member of the radical left party Unidas Podemos and main instigator of the text of the law. “It was about dechosing beings who live, suffer, feel.” In the eyes of Nuria Menéndez, director of the Justice and Animal Defense Observatory, “It is an act of justice that corrects an anachronism. The law gives them the status of living beings, who think and feel..

This new text is the result of a broad political consensus since, as early as 2015 with the consent of the left, the conservative right had collected half a million signatures and promoted a popular legislative initiative (ILP) aimed at reforming the legislation. The only reservation expressed today by the People’s Party, the main opposition party, is that in the event of divorce, “taking into account the fate of pets complicates that of children”.

In addition to the Civil Code, the law on mortgages has also been modified (an animal can no longer be a party to a receivership, like any other “object”) and that on civil suits (in the event of a road accident, for example, an animal will no longer have the same status as a suitcase).

Bullfighting set aside

The entry into force of the law occurs in a country that has always stood out for its cruelty to animals. In the fall, the animalist party Pacma identified the dozens of municipalities whose traditional festivals involve animal abuse, such as goose races, duck throwing, horse chases, and, of course, festive activities featuring scene of bulls subjected to human whims, as in Tordesillas or in the Ebro delta. The association for the defense of animal rights, Adda, denounces “terrible animal abuse” in areas related to experimentation, hunting or intensive breeding. And, from the same source, between 150,000 and 300,000 dog abandonments would take place each year.

Under the leadership of Unidas Podemos, the government wants to be even more ambitious with a second bill concerning pets. This provides for the prohibition to leave a dog alone for more than 24 hours (3 days for another domestic animal), to buy one of these animals in a shop, to sacrifice a pet except “compelling reason”. It will also make a digital ID document mandatory for each of the 10 million pets, “in order to exercise better control and better traceability”. Significantly, the legislator has set aside bullfighting, banned in the Canary Islands and Catalonia, a subject that deeply divides the country between those who see it as a practice from another age and those who perceive it as a cultural and historical asset. .


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