What was feared by many is now a reality: Spain’s first Animal Protection Law is a fact and both hunting and working dogs are excluded from it. This means that there are different rules for (owners of) pet dogs than those for hunting dogs.
Animal associations have been working for years to ensure that the rights of all animals are protected within the new law. Unfortunately, this will not be the case when the new Animal Protection Act enters into force. This was something animal organisations and animal lovers feared recently on World Galgo Day on February 1.
These matters are regulated within the new Animal Protection Act
It is prohibited to offer pets for sale in shop windows. Breeding by private individuals is also prohibited. Only people who have registered themselves as such and meet strict rules are allowed to breed pets. If people do not comply with this, high fines can follow, up to a maximum of €200,000.
There will be a national ban on cockfighting. In the last two Spanish regions where this was still done, the Canary Islands and Andalucia, this is now also banned.
Circuses are no longer allowed to keep wild animals and perform acts with them. These fines can also amount to as much as €200,000.
People who want to take a dog into their home have to take a mandatory course to take good care of it. This course is free and only needs to be taken once.
One of the most controversial parts of the new Animal Protection Act is the fact that hunting dogs and dogs used for other professional purposes, mainly working dogs, are excluded from the new legislation. Owners of these dogs will therefore not have to meet the same requirements as pet owners.
Different requirements for pet and hunting or working dog owners
According to the law, pet owners have a number of obligations such as recording and being able to provide the identity of their pet and providing shelter. Hunters and owners of working dogs are exempt. In addition, pet dogs should not be left alone or on a chain for more than 24 hours. In that case, fines can amount to €10,000. Hunting and working dogs are allowed to live without human supervision for extended periods of time, as long as their owners know their whereabouts and make sure they have a place to shelter.
One of the most bizarre examples is that absolutely no harmful means or methods may be used when raising a Labrador, for example. On the other hand, owners of hunting and working dogs can use whatever means they deem appropriate so that the dogs can do their job.
Spanish hunters’ association happy with new legislation
President Manuel Gallardo of the Royal Spanish Hunters Association says he is pleased with the new law because he also believes that hunting dogs cannot be treated in the same way as pets. They carry out a specific activity and therefore they must be treated differently. He does not understand that opponents believe that hunters must ensure that their animals are not allowed to harm others. “In that case, it is better to impose a hunting ban,” according to Gallardo.
Battle not yet over according to some Spanish politicians
Despite the fact that the new Animal Protection Act has been passed within Congress, some parties indicate that they do not accept it. For example, sources from Unidas Podemos say that they will make it clear that when serious crimes are committed against animals, this means that hunters and owners of working dogs are punished with prison sentences and high fines.
Ione Belarra of Unidos Podemos says: “The fact that these owners do not need any education or papers and can use all means to train the animals, does not mean that these animals do not need to be protected to some extent.”