The Spanish Council of Ministers gave the green light on Friday to the preliminary draft of its new Animal Protection Law, whose text will now be sent to the lower house of Parliament (Congreso de los Diputados) to be processed as a bill.
The legal text, promoted by the Minister of Social Rights Ione Belarra (from Unidas Podemos, a minority partner of the PSOE in the central government), has seen the light after months of controversy between different ministries over its content.
Hoy empezamos a terminar con la impunidad de los maltratadores de animales en nuestro país con la primera ley de derechos animales de nuestra democracia. Aquí lo explico 👇 pic.twitter.com/cTGZteqyCy— Ione Belarra (@ionebelarra) February 18, 2022
The resistance to support the project by the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, has been especially manifest, according to Spanish media reports.
According to a press release from the Spanish executive, the future law "responds to a social demand" to put an end to the mistreatment, sacrifice and abandonment of animals.
The law is intended to be an "umbrella" for existing regional and municipal legislation. One of its main innovations is the 'zero slaughter' policy for healthy pets. When the new regulation comes into force, animals may only be slaughtered to prevent further suffering or for public health reasons.
In addition, the government has approved in parallel a modification of the Spanish Criminal Code that toughens the penalties for mistreating animals. Henceforth, animal abuse resulting in death will be punished with up to 24 months in prison, and up to 18 months if veterinary care is required as a result of the abuse.
A course for dog owners
One of the most controversial measures is that, with the new law, it will be mandatory to take a training course prior to owning dogs. The content of such training has yet to be drafted and regulated.
According to the newspaper El Mundo, which quotes government sources, the course will consist of "a short training that will help to learn the responsibilities of having an animal and civic norms for coexistence."
It will also be prohibited to leave pets unattended for three consecutive days in the case of cats or ferrets, and 24 hours in the case of dogs.
The new law will also end the exhibition and sale of animals in pet stores. When it comes into force, only aquarium fish can be sold in these establishments.
The bill will now begin its parliamentary process, during which it can still be amended by the different political groups.