In Spain, animals are no longer ‘things’ but ‘conscious beings’

by Lorraine Williamson
animals have feelings

MADRID – The Spanish senate has approved the reform of several laws that put an end to treating animals as ‘things’. The proposal to amend the law comes from PSOE. Vox voted against and the PP abstained. 

That means pets are now considered sentient beings and can also be cared for in traffic accidents. Until now there was no obligation to care in such a case because they were still considered baggage. In addition, animals are no longer considered goods. Therefore, in the event of divorce or legal separation, judges will decide who will have custody of the animal. 

With the green light for the bill from the Senate, the legal regime for animals in the Mortgage Act, the Civil Code, and the Civil Procedure Act will be amended. 

The fact that animals are henceforth regarded as ‘conscious beings’ with this reform of the law, means they are recognised in their ‘nature as living beings with sentience. That is, as sentient beings’, according to the legal text. 

Cogesa Expats

Living beings with feelings 

Elena Diego, the socialist senator who has defended the proposal, is delighted that the amendment represents a “necessary and requested change” of Spanish society. “Animals cannot be considered in our legal system as things, but as what they are, sentient living beings,” Diego said. 

Divorce also hurts pets 

The new rule responds to the increasing number of divorce cases in the country. The law guarantees the protection of the animal, from the suffering of its removal from the home and shared life until there is a decision as to which of the two owners it should be placed with. Or how the time will be divided between the two and the additional financial obligations. 

About 30,000 of the 100,000 couples who divorce each year in Spain have pets. So “it was urgent to define the relationship of animals with people in the family environment and especially in moments of breakup,” Diego told Spanish press. 

Rights but no obligations 

Vox said during the parliamentary debate that it was against the bill. Because the party believes it gives animals a category of rights, while they have no obligations. The party accused the PSOE of championing animal rights more than human rights, with references to abortion. 


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