SPAIN has unveiled plans to change an animal’s status from a ‘thing’ to a ‘living being with feelings’ and grants them rights along with it.
A draft bill unveiled on Wednesday by Spain’s left wing coalition government tackles animal rights abuses but avoids the polemic issue of bullfighting.
The new bill proposes a ban on the sale of pets in shops and to force dog owners to take a training course and will be able to consider the custody of a pet in divorce proceedings.
The new legislation also gives judges the power to deny joint custody of the children if a parent mistreats the family pet or threatens to do so in order to coerce their ex-partner.
It also states that owners cannot leave their dogs alone for more than 24-hours and will create a pet offender list banning those who have abused animals from owning any more.
In addition it bans private owners from keeping more than five pets unless they apply for a special permit – although when the law comes into force it will not apply retroactively to those who already have more than five.
The reform also outlines the circumstances in which animals can be euthanized, which include terminal illness or incurable injuries, but will not allow pets that are unwanted to be put down – even those in overcrowded animal shelters.
The draft animal rights bill also includes a ban on wild animals being used in circuses and outlines conditions for keeping wild animals in captivity such as zoos and safari parks, dictating enclosure size and living conditions.
However, it falls short of addressing Spain’s controversial bullfighting tradition.
Inés Sabanés, spokeswoman for the green Equo party in Spain’s parliament, welcomed the draft animal rights bill was an “exciting” moment, and she hoped it would be approved by Congress as soon as possible.
Sceptics such as Mr Arnas, however, think the law goes so far as to give animals more rights than humans, adding that his association had not been involved in any prior consultation process.
“People will have to take a course in order to have a dog, something parents aren’t asked to do before having a child.”
If the law is passed, local authorities will have to draw up plans to be ready to evacuate animals from emergency zones, such as wildfires.
The conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox party opposed the bill but it was passed by the lower house of parliament and is likely to be approved by the Senate.
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