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Spain’s new Animal Welfare Law

Spain’s new Animal Welfare Law includes a permissible pet list that excludes species previously considered domestic animals

The new Animal Welfare Law has been created at the behest of the EU to introduce measures that protect and ensure the welfare of animals as sentient beings. Among other measures, it includes a list of animals we can keep as pets, demands decent living conditions, prohibits uncontrolled breeding, requires pet I.D. and civil liability insurance and establishes social aptitude tests for dogs and their owners.

The new law outlines conditions which must be met before an animal is allowed to be kept as a domestic animal. The permissible pet list has not yet been finalised but currently includes dogs, cats and ferrets. It stipulates that it must be an animal suitable for keeping in captivity; it cannot be a protected wild species, a species considered invasive, or a species that might pose a serious risk should it escape or get out of control. Owners of animals excluded from the list will have to register their ownership of such an animal to obtain authorisation to keep them until they die.

Certain animals may no longer be allowed to be kept as pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice and hamsters; some birds, including parrots, lovebirds, and parakeets, as well as exotic reptiles such as snakes, iguanas, lizards, chameleons and geckos.

Other animals expected to be excluded from the permissible pet list are turtles, which are endangered; hedgehogs, because of their threat to native species; Vietnamese pigs, because of the risk of overpopulation if they become feral; spiders, whose bites can be poisonous, and because they carry diseases that can be extremely dangerous for humans.

The new law explicitly prohibits cockfighting and pigeon shooting and imposes penalties of up to 200,000 euros. Breeding will only be permitted under the care of registered breeders. Also, the sale and display of dogs, cats and ferrets in shops will be banned.

Equally, the law states a number of obligations for pet owners. Identification of all pets is compulsory, along with sterilisation if there is uncontrolled contact with other animals (unless under the care of a registered breeder). If two animals of the same species live together, at least one must be sterilised if they are of different sexes.

In addition, dog owners will have to pass an aptitude test (most likely free of charge and online) and take out civil liability insurance for their dogs, which will also have to pass a sociability test.


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