Animal welfare law in Spain

Spain has gone to great lengths to protect the welfare of animals, specifically through its animal welfare law. The animal welfare law in Spain is considered one of the strictest in all of Europe, aimed to ensure that animals have proper care and all possible physical and psychological needs.

After the creation of the Animal Protection Law in 2022, with intense debate and months of proceedings, the Congress approved the Law for the Protection of Animal Rights and Welfare. It also added the reform of the Penal Code on Animal Mistreatment. It will come into force in 2023.

animal welfare

Highlights incorporating the new law.
  • Positive listing of pets: only pets considered domestic may be adopted. This includes dogs, cats, small rodents, ferrets, parakeets and birds. Some species such as turtles, primates, exotic reptiles or species considered dangerous, poisonous or invasive are excluded.
  • Owners must take a course to keep a dog at home, approved by a professional dog breeder or trainer. The courses may be online and will be free of charge. The Law also limits the time a dog can be left alone at home, whose limit is set at no more than 24 hours. In the case of cats, caged birds or a hamster, the time alone is no more than three days. Pets shall not live on terraces, balconies or basements.
  • Pet stores will not be allowed to sell pets, such as dogs, cats and ferrets. Nor may they display them in their windows for commercial purposes. They may only sell fish, birds and small rodents.
  • Only registered and registered breeders may breed pets. In addition, the law prohibits the exhibition and participation of animals in fairs and circuses.
  • The new law prohibits euthanasia, which may only be practiced in very extreme cases. It is still necessary to unify the criteria with the acting veterinarians.
  • The sterilization of cats is mandatory and must be done before they are six months old. In addition, these pets will be identified with a microchip, which will be mandatory.
  • Dog owners who are not registered as professional breeders must avoid the uncontrolled reproduction of their animals. In the case of dogs, sterilization is optional.
Prohibition of possession of certain species.

The text of the new law is ready, although the final lists of the species that may not be kept at home are still to be drawn up. For the time being, those who own some of these animals will have to report their possession to the authorities.

The Law does not apply retroactively, that is to say that after reporting their possession they will be able to keep them, although it remains to be defined what will happen with poisonous or dangerous species.

Likewise, the rules on dog breeds considered dangerous remain in force, although the Law abolishes the sociability test, which until now was mandatory.

The objective to conquer, is, without any doubt, to achieve significant improvements in animal welfare.

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