Spain has overhauled animal welfare laws. Here's what's new

Spain has overhauled animal welfare laws. Here's what's new

In Spain, there are more than 29 million pets.

Abandonment and a lack of identification are frequent problems, with around 300,000 animals deserted each year, according to the Ministry of Social Rights.

In order to help solve this situation, last Spanish lawmakers passed the Animal Welfare Law, which came into force on Friday.

It is a new regulation establishing stricter rules for pet owners and affects all animals - domestic or wild - under human care.

The objective is "to fight against the mistreatment, abandonment, and slaughter of animals,"  according to the Ministry of Social Rights.

However, critics point out one of Spain's most notorious national sports, bullfighting, will still be allowed.

The new law could mean animal abuse is punished with more than one year imprisonment, reaching up to 36 months in case of death.

Financial penalties range from 500 to 200,000 euros depending on the seriousness of the infringement have also been created.

What is banned from now on?

The use of spikes, electric shock collars or tying animals to moving motor vehicles is now prohibited.

Circuses including animals, which some legislations already prevent, are banned under this new law, but popular celebrations with bulls are excluded.

Other exemptions include research animals, livestock, and rescue and hunting dogs.

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FILE - Hilario Gutierrez Fernandez walks his dogs in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. - Andres Kudacki/AP

The commercialisation of animals in pet stores is also prohibited.

It will now no longer be possible to sell cats, dogs or ferrets. These animals can now only be acquired under the age of four months directly from their birth breeding nucleus or through adoption from registered animal protection entities.

From training courses and insurance to the right to fly

Dog owners will have to complete a free online training course, but this measure will not come into force until a new government has been formed.

The same applies to liability insurance for dog owners - not full pet healthcare - which will now be compulsory.

Cat owners will not have to take out an insurance policy.

The law affects transporting pets, too. Shipping companies, airlines and trains will now have to take measures to facilitate pet access, as long as the owner respects the security measures and ensures the correct behaviour of the animal.

Don't leave me alone and treat me right

The law also says a pet may not be left unattended for more than three consecutive days, a period that is reduced to 24 hours in the case of dogs.

Leaving dogs or cats on terraces or patios, although not prohibited, is now time-limited.

Pet owners will not be able to leave their animals alone inside closed vehicles or exposed to any thermal conditions that could put their lives in danger.

Animals cannot be allowed to be left alone or tied up in public spaces, which means no leaving your dog outside the supermarket.

Also there is now a maximum amount of pets one can have: five.

Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
FILE - A man walks with dogs during a sunny winter's day in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. - Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

You will not be able to sacrifice your furry companion due to lack of space or economic reasons.

Euthanasia will now only be allowed under veterinary criteria.

Avoiding uncontrolled breeding

The new law also establishes rules to avoid uncontrolled breeding of pets.

The objective is that breeding should be carried out by responsible persons who are registered in the Register of Breeders of Companion Animals.

It specifies that measures must be taken to avoid uncontrolled reproduction, such as sterilisation and making it compulsory for animals that cannot be controlled.

All cats will have to be identified via microchip and sterilised before the age of six months, except those registered as breeders.

The direct sale of any type of pet through the internet, web portals or any telematic means or application is prohibited.

Animals that cannot be kept as pets

Most domestic animals may continue to be pets, such as dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters, parakeets, and canaries.

On the other hand, dangerous or poisonous animals, wild mammals over five kilograms and reptiles (except turtles) over two kilograms (such as snakes or iguanas) may not be kept in homes.