Pets in Spain will legally change their status from things to sentient beings under a new law proposal…
A vote held last week in which all parliamentary groups, with the exception of Vox, predictably, supported an admirable idea, demonstrated that the Spanish Congress is not all about intra- and inter-party fights. The new “law proposal” – which still needs to be written into law – will elevate the status of animals in Spain from “things” to “sentient beings”.
A “law proposal” is an official directive to deputies to begin a complicated change of corresponding laws, such as the Criminal Code, Civil Code, Mortgage Law, and Civil Procedure Laws, all connected with the current status of animals and pets in Spain.
So, what is going to change? The proposal distinguishes between animals and things. In the case of repossession procedures, meaning that animals will no longer be able to be seized alongside sofas and cutlery. In the event of a divorce, they will no longer be traded for a painting or a handbag, but will be treated as living beings deserving of special treatment, including joint custody. The same rights as children under the age of 18, in fact.
This measure will have far-reaching consequences in a country with the fourth-highest divorce rate in the European Union and where 40% of households own at least one pet. The legislator hopes that once implemented, it will have an impact on Spain’s high rate of pet abandonment, which is yet another unfortunate aspect of the country.
Ciudadanos initiated this initiative in 2017, which was later pushed by PP and is now being promoted jointly by the PSOE and Podemos. Except for Vox, every single party in the Spanish parliament voted in support of it. Cleary, a good cause can bring everyone together. Following France, Germany, and Switzerland, Spain will be the fourth European country to adopt such rules once the legislation is changed.
However, many things remain to be defined. The change in the Criminal Code will finally shift responsibility for the wellbeing of animals to their owners, the absence of which has been blamed for widespread animal abuse. But how far this will go remains to be seen.
It could be a particularly contentious issue when it comes to the fate of animals that are not considered pets. It will be difficult to draw lines in a country where bullfighting is widely accepted as a tradition. The same week that the Madrid government announced aids and subventions to restart the province’s bullfighting industry, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias called for all subsidies of this type to be scrapped nationwide. The new law will have a long way to go before it can be applied to animals other than cats and dogs, it seems.