The new Animal Protection Law
The new Animal Protection law and the importance of knowing the legal obligations of the owners
What is the upcoming Animal Protection Law?
The Animal Protection Law, of which the Council of Ministers gave the green light on February 18 to its draft, still does not have a final text but everything it indicates that it will enter into force before the end of 2022. This future law that is causing so much commotion introduces a twist in the regime applicable to the treatment of pets and their legal consideration. The pioneering and essential modification that gives rise to and inspires this new law is found in the Civil Code, which has been amended by virtue of Law 17/2021, of December 15, amending the Civil Code, Law Mortgage and the Civil Procedure Law, on the legal regime of animals to give animals a new legal category. This reform ceases to consider animals “things” and considers them “sentient beings”. And it is because of this Law 17/2021, of December 15, by which the new Animal Protection Law was born, which will develop what it consists of and what scope this new legal category has in a comprehensive law that protects animals.< /p>
This reform of the Civil Code, particularly in its article 333 bis, expressly recognizes animals as living beings endowed with sensitivity, giving them new rights inherent to their new category “sentient beings”. ”, imposing new measures on their treatment, care and attention. Specifically, the new legislation that is about to come out and that pivots on the modification of the legal category of animals already in force in the Civil Code regulates the possibility of establishing a custody regime in the event of a divorce or separation, the obligation of the owners to create their own DNI or the unavoidable requirement of obtaining a course to be able to buy or adopt them.
What obligations will pet owners have from its entry into force?
The main concern that arises as a result of this new Law on Animal Protection revolves around the obligations of owners towards their pets and the measures they must take from its entry into force. Among the most interesting measures that owners should take into account are:
- The duty to take the pertinent measures to avoid the uncontrolled reproduction of companion animals. Those pets that have access to the outside of the houses and that have contact with other pets of their species must be sterilized. If there are animals of the same species and different sex in the same home, they must also be sterilized, except in the case of breeders who must be registered in the National Registry of Breeders.
- In the event of divorce or separation, and in the absence of an agreement between the spouses on the custody of the animal, the decision may be submitted to the knowledge of the courts and tribunals.
- Animals must be registered in a public animal registry (animal ID) and their owners They must ensure their hygiene. This animal ID will be mandatory for dogs and cats, becoming a complementary mechanism to the microchip, thus allowing easier identification of its owner in case of violation of the rules on animal care, especially in cases of abuse or neglect.
- Pet owners will be required to carry liability insurance for each pet they own.
- The transfer of animals between people will have to be “in any case, free of charge and be reflected in the contract”.
- The exhibition of animals for commercial purposes is prohibited, as well as the participation of animals in parades, nativity scenes and processions.
- Dog owners must first take an approved training course. However, owners of dogs intended for hunting or herding will not be required to do so.
This last measure, perhaps one of the most important that can be found in the text, is highly relevant for owners, since it will be mandatory, in order to minimize mistreatment or abandonment of animals, take a course before adopting or acquiring a pet. According to the text of the Animal Protection Bill, owners must take this prior training in regulated responsible ownership that educates the future owner in coexistence that guarantees the well-being of their pet.
In addition, other of the most important measures to highlight and that harm pet stores, is that the sale of animals in pet stores is prohibited, < /strong>where they cannot be exposed to the public either, and the sale will be limited to professional breeders authorized for breeding.
The scope of application of the new law does not include those animals dedicated to hunting and grazing, nor to bullfighting.
What are the consequences if pets are no longer considered “things” by the Civil Code?
In the event that the infractions are minor, the fines can range between 600 and 30,000 euros, and in the case of serious infractions, the fines can range from 30,001 at 100,000 euros. Ultimately, if the offenses are considered very serious, the fines may range from 100,001 to 600,000 euros, reserved for those cases in which the animal is killed, slaughtered without authorization or trained for subsequent participation. in fights.
In addition to these sanctions, pet owners who violate the measures contemplated in the law may be disqualified from owning and for activities related to animals (breeding, marketing, veterinary assistance, etc.) between five and ten years, in the event that the infringements are very serious.
Finally, add that the first pronouncement considering a dog as being endowed with sensitivity is already a reality. The Court of First Instance No. 11 of Oviedo has issued a Provisional Execution Order (9/2022) which is a pioneer in applying the new reform of the Civil Code. The order prevents, provisionally, a dog from being separated from the one who has been his caretaker for the last four years since, as the magistrate says: </ p>
«The welfare of the animal advises not to establish changes in its current situation; changes that could generate unnecessary suffering for the animal that would be abruptly separated from the person who has been its caretaker for at least the last three years.” For the magistrate, the eventual damage suffered can cause the dog due to the change of environment should be avoided and therefore “we are not dealing with a thing but with an animal that, in the words of art. 333 bis of the Civil Code currently in force since January 5, 2022, is a living being, endowed with sensitivity, so that all decisions that affect an animal must ensure its welfare in accordance with the characteristics of each species”.