The Spanish Congress has approved a controversial animal welfare bill that excludes hunting dogs and increases penalties for mistreatment of pets by owners and those working with animals.
The law will come into force once it has passed all the necessary approval procedures at which point it will be published by the Official State Gazette (BOE) and six months following its publication, the law will be effective.
The law applies to domestic and captive wild animals, but excludes dogs used for hunting or other professional activities such as search and rescue dogs and those operating with law enforcement. It also excludes animals used in bullfighting or production.
The main objective is to guarantee animal welfare and protection, and to establish a common legal framework throughout Spain in particular to reduce the number of abandoned animals.
Owners will be expected to integrate pets into the family nucleus, prevent uncontrolled reproduction and will be required to complete a free training course on responsible pet ownership. Breeding may also only be carried out by persons responsible for the animal and be registered as such.
Pets must be identified with a microchip and all cats will have to be surgically sterilised before six months, unless they are officially registered as breeding animals.
The law prohibits animal fights, leaving pets unsupervised for more than three days (in the case of dogs for no longer than 24 hours) and regularly keeping dogs and cats in outside spaces, storage rooms, basements or vehicles.
The commercial breeding of pets, whose individual identification will be compulsory under new regulations, will not be permitted unless the person responsible is registered on an official list of pet breeders.
Cats, dogs and ferrets will not be allowed to be sold in pet shops. They will also not be permitted to be exhibited in public for commercial purposes, which will be classified as a very serious offence. These animals may only be marketed by registered breeders.
People responsible for domestic animals who do not comply with identification obligations, use violent methods in their pet training, administer substances that may harm the animal (unless directed to do so by a vet) and mutilate or carry out unauthorised bodily modifications to the animal will be subject to weight of the law.
Fines for violations will range from €500 to €200,000, depending on the severity of the offence.