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As of September, the animal rights and welfare will be subject to greater protection

As of 9-29-2023, the law for the protection of the rights and welfare of animals comes into force, which establishes the basic legal regime for the protection, guarantee of animal rights and welfare, without prejudice to the regulations on animal health.

I. Obligations

It establishes general obligations for guardians or managers of all animals included within its scope of application. Among other:

  • Maintain them in decent living conditions that guarantee their well-being, rights and healthy development.
  • Educate and manage the animal with methods that do not cause suffering or mistreatment, or cause states of anxiety or fear.
  • Do not leave them alone inside closed vehicles, exposed to conditions that could put their lives in danger.
  •  Provide them with the necessary health care to guarantee their health.
  • Keep permanently located and identified the animal.
  • Notify the authorities of the loss or theft of the animal within a maximum period of 48 hours, as well as its change of ownership, loss or death.

The mandatory completion of a training course for the possession of dogs is foreseen, with indefinite validity. This training course will be free and its content will be determined by regulation.

The responsibility of the person responsible for the animal is established for damages, losses or inconvenience that, without provocation or negligence by a third party, may cause to people, other animals or things, to roads and public spaces and to the natural environment.

Dog owners must take out and keep in force civil liability insurance for damages to third parties, under the conditions that will be established by law.

II. prohibitions

As it happens with the obligations, some general prohibitions and other specific ones of companion animals are established. Among the first, the following can be highlighted:

  • Abuse or physical aggression, negligent treatment or any practice that may cause them suffering, physical or psychological damage or cause their death.
  • Intentional abandonment in closed or open spaces, as well as leaving animals loose or in a position to cause damage in public or private places with public access.
  • The use of animals in public shows or tourist or advertising artistic activities, which cause them anguish, pain or suffering, without prejudice to what is provided in the Law itself on animals that participate in filming and performing arts, in fairs, exhibitions and contests, or in pilgrimages, festive events, nativity scenes, parades and processions.
  • Its use on the street as a claim, without prejudice to the right of homeless people to be accompanied by their companion animals.
  • Its food with viscera, corpses and other offal from animals that have not passed the appropriate health controls.
  • Using animals as a claim, reward, prize, raffle or promotion, or as an advertising claim.
  • Use them in fights or their training in the development of this practice and other similar ones, as well as instigating aggression against other animals or other people outside the scope of regulated activities.

Regarding the use of wild animals in captivity in circuses, carousels, fairground attractions and other public shows, holders are granted a period of 6 months to modify their activity and notify the authority of the species and number of wild animals in captivity that work in their power. The licenses that authorize the use of wild animals expire within the aforementioned period of 6 months and new authorizations cannot be granted. Requests pending resolution must be rejected.

As specific prohibitions on pets are collected, among others:

  • Their sacrifice, except for reasons of security or risk to public health. Euthanasia is allowed, under veterinary criteria and control, to avoid suffering due to non-recoverable causes.
  • Mutilation or permanent body modifications, with the exception of identification systems and those necessary for therapeutic necessity or to limit or cancel their reproductive capacity.
  • Keep them tied up or wandering through public spaces without the face-to-face supervision of their manager.
  • Regularly keep dogs and cats on terraces, balconies, rooftops, storage rooms, basements, patios and similar or vehicles.
  • Leaving them unattended for more than 3 consecutive days; or 24 consecutive hours in the case of dogs.
  • The commercialization, donation or delivery for adoption of unidentified and previously registered animals in the name of the transferor.
  • Use companion animals for human consumption.
  • The use of any handling tool that may cause injury to the animal (eg electric, impulse, punishment or choking collars).

III. Identification, breeding and commercialization

  • The identification of companion animals must be carried out individually, by a licensed veterinarian, as established by law. The initial identification of the animals can only be made in the name of a registered breeder, animal protection entity or authorized public administration, and a subsequent transmission can be made to other natural or legal persons.
  • In addition, dogs, cats and ferrets must be compulsorily identified by microchip, and birds by ringing.
  • The activity of breeding companion animals can only be carried out by persons registered in the Registry of Companion Animal Breeders.
  • Owners of companion animals whose individual identification is mandatory and who wish to carry out a non-commercial breeding activity must compulsorily register the animals as breeders in the Companion Animal Registry. This registration automatically implies the registration of the holder in the Register of Companion Animal Breeders in the corresponding category.
  • The sale of pets must be carried out through a written sales contract.
  • The sale of dogs, cats and ferrets can only be carried out by the registered breeder, without the intervention of intermediaries.
  • Their commercialization in pet shops is prohibited, which have a period of 12 months to complete their activity of selling these species.
  • Dogs and cats must be a minimum age of two months at the time of sale.
  • The online sale of any type of pet is prohibited.

III. Other measures

The Law includes other promotion and protection measures, such as the creation of the State Council for Animal Protection and a Scientific and Technical Committee for the Protection and Rights of Animals, the regulation of Animal Protection Statistics, the approval of a state plan and territorial animal protection programs.

Likewise, public animal protection centers are regulated, dependent on the municipalities, in charge of collecting and caring for animals; and the animal protection entities, in their different modalities, which must be registered in the Register of animal protection entities.

Finally, a penalty system is established with offenses classified as minor, serious and very serious, and with sanctions that can reach 200,000 euros.

Note that the standard contemplates important exclusions, such as animals used in bullfighting, hunting dogs, production animals, animals used for scientific purposes, animals used in sports activities, falconry birds, shepherd dogs, or animals used in professional activities ( rescue, security forces and bodies or Armed Forces).

Finally, remember that together with this rule, organic regulations have been published that in the criminal field increase the penalties and the protection of all vertebrate animals against the different forms of violence against them, although these will be in force from 18 -4-2023.

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