Spain joins nations like the UK and Brussels in passing an animal welfare law that recognizes animals as sentient beings, meaning that the country will no longer consider pets and wild animals as “objects.”
Spain’s Congress of Deputies passed the new legislation, which received majority approval with only the country’s far-right Vox party in opposition to it.
The law grants greater legal protections to animals, with special attention to domesticated animals. For instance, in the case of a divorce or separation, the animal will no longer be treated like a piece of furniture or a television set. Instead, the animal’s overall wellbeing will be taken into account before being separated from its owners, and mistreatment or abandonment of the animal will be considered illegal.
“It’s a step forward and it says that in separations and divorces, the arrangement that will be applied to the animals will take into account not only the interests of the humans but also of the animal,” explains María González Lacabex, a member of animal welfare organization INTERcids.
“Those who are violent against animals are potentially violent against humans as well,” says Guillermo Díaz, a Ciudadanos lawmaker. While it’s true that the introduction of the new legislation is a huge step forward in animal welfare, it does not address other instances of animal cruelty, such as bullfighting. According to animal rights group PETA, the practice is banned in at least 100 towns in Spain, however, it is still legal in the country.
Hopefully, the new law will push the entire nation towards taking the next step of formally banning bullfighting as well.