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Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Spain - Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

There have been changes to animal welfare laws in Spain in recent years. For a long time the welfare of animals has been considered to be a minor issue and many pet owners have not treated their pets with kindness. It is now a criminal offence to hurt a domestic animal and fines of up to €100,000 can be handed out to those who break the law. The law also covers farm animals, including their transportation and living conditions as well as animals which are being used as part of medical research.

However, the law does not make any mention of the treatment of bulls during bullfighting or the use of other animals in other fiestas. The lack of real legislation until recently has meant that there have been many instances of extreme cruelty to animals which has led to the calls for this legislation to be put into place. Both individuals and companies can be fined for cruelty to animals.

In addition to these laws there are regulations which govern the ownership of ‘dangerous’ dogs. Certain breeds of dog need to be registered with the local authorities and can only be housed on properties which have suitable facilities to prevent them from becoming loose. They also can only be exercised on a lead and should not be allowed to roam. Details of animals which should be registered can be obtained from the town hall in your area.

There are a number of measures in place controlling the sale and purchase of a domestic pet. The seller needs to have a certificate of sale (contrato de compra-venta), proof that the animal has been microchipped and has an identity card, a vaccination book which has been signed by the animal’s vet and any pedigree documentation that is available. The new owner will need to ensure that the animal has had a rabies vaccination and is obliged to keep up with all vaccinations and register the pet at the local town hall. These measures are intended to ensure that only those pet owners who are prepared to make a commitment to taking care of the animal properly should have a pet, although there are many animals which slip through these procedures.

If you find an animal while in Spain you can take it to a local vet who will check it for a microchip. If there is no identification the finder has the right to keep the animal or contact the Spanish equivalent of the RSPCA (SPAP) for assistance. There are local kennels which will take unwanted animals but they generally only keep them for 2 weeks before they are put to sleep. If you lose a pet then you should contact your vet to report it lost and give the ID number of the animal so that it can be identified if found. The ID office of the national college of vets can also be contacted and it is advised to contact the local police station and report the animal missing.

There are a number of organisations at work in Spain who are trying to combat animal cruelty. The ANAA (Asociacion Nacional Amigos de los Animales) is based in Madrid but works nationally. The group runs a series of campaigns each year to raise awareness and teach owners of pets to be more responsible. They also have shelters which work to rehome unwanted pets. Another in Madrid is the ‘Fundacion El Arca de Noe’ which finds new homes for stray cats and dogs and operates a neutering programme in the area.

The ‘Sociedad Protectora de Animales y Plantas de Madrid’ (also known as SPAP) runs campaigns to educate pet owners about their responsibilities, has a veterinary clinic for neutering animals and takes legal action against those who are cruel to animals. The legal system in Spain means that it can take time for legal proceedings against irresponsible pet owners to be heard.

Useful Resources

www.EncuentraMascota.com (in English)
Website directory of animal shelters and information on animal health

ANAA (Asociación Nacional Amigos de los Animales)
Tel: 915 447 376
Email: anaa@anaaweb.org

Fundacion El Arca de Noe
Tel: + 34 918 73 08 98
Email: info@fundacionelarcadenoe.com

Sociedad Protectora de Animales y Plantas de Madrid
Tel: + 34 807 11 70 21

Read more about this country

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