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6 keys to the new Animal Welfare Act 2023


Animal Welfare Act 2023

In Spain, one in three households lives with at least one pet. However, it is estimated that more than 6 million animals are out of official control because they are not officially identified.

This poses a risk both to public health and to the animals themselves, who face situations of abandonment, mistreatment and unjustified slaughter.

In this respect, the Animal Welfare Act is intended to mark the beginning of a new era for animals by guaranteeing their protection and welfare with fines and penalties of up to €200,000.

However, although the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 submitted the proposal on 13 December 2022, the law has not yet entered into force due to differing political positions.

Below, we will analyse the keys to understanding the new regulation, taking into account the changes it has undergone in the negotiations within the government:

  • Pets banned in 2023
  • Requirements for keeping pets in Spain
  • Dangerous dogs in Spain 2023
  • Fines for animal abandonment in Spain 2023
  • Cockfighting, wild animals and circuses
  • Marketing and use of animals in shop windows

Pets banned in 2023

  • Rodents: rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice and hamsters.
  • Vietnamese pigs
  • Turtles
  • Hedgehogs
  • Spiders
  • Exotic reptiles: snakes, iguanas, lizards, chameleons, or geckos
  • Birds: parrots, lovebirds, parakeets, parakeets and foreign species
animal welfare law 2023

Requirements for pet ownership in Spain under the Animal Welfare Law 2023

  • Identification of petswithin 3 months of the animal's birth or 30 days from the date of purchase, the animal must be registered in the municipal census and identified with a microchip by a veterinarian.
  • Mandatory supervision: pet animals may not be left unattended for more than three consecutive days. The time limit is reduced to 24 hours in the case of dogs. Similarly, the regulation establishes that owners must "keep them integrated into the family nucleus, in good health and hygiene".
  • Vaccination mandatory to protect pets from disease.
  • Control of animal husbandryThe Animal Welfare Act 2023 states that only "persons responsible for the activity of licensed pet animal husbandry" (Register of Companion Animal Breeders). Failure to do so would result in a financial penalty of between 500 and 10,000 euros.
  • Dog owners or dog handlers must sign a civil liability insurance for damages to third parties.
  • Sterilisation of pets living outside the dwellings or having access to the outside.
  • Zero SlaughterThe killing of pet animals is prohibited without a duly justified cause, such as health reasons.

Dog ownership courses in Spain

The new law adds a point that has caused much controversy: all people who own or want to own a dog must take a free course, regardless of their breed or physical characteristics, in advance or, if already owned, within a maximum period of two years from the entry into force of the new regulation.

Dangerous dogs in Spain with the Animal Welfare Law 2023

Until now, the dogs considered as potentially dangerous in Spain, based on their behaviour and physical characteristics, were as follows:

Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffodshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu, Akita Inu, Doberman, Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Neapolitan Mastiff, Boxer, Dogo Canario (Presa Canario), Bull Terrier, Tibetan Mastiff.

However, when the Animal Welfare Act 2023 comes into force, the term "potentially dangerous dog" will be changed to "special handling dog". and their classification will be determined through a sociability assessment according to their behaviour.

If, after testing, the dog is classified as a "special handling dog", owners must follow certain security measures to prevent assaults or escapes.

Fines for animal neglect in Spain according to the Animal Welfare Act 2023

Failure to report the loss or theft of a pet within 48 hours will be considered abandonment, which is a serious offence and will be penalised by fines ranging from €10,001 to €50,000 and up to €200,000 if considered "very serious". (committing more than one serious infringement within a period of three years).

In addition, if the abandonment endangers the life of the animal can mean a fine of 1 to 6 months and one to three months of community service. If the animal dies, the penalties are up to 24 months' imprisonment and 36 months if there is more than one aggravating circumstance.

The Animal Welfare Act 2023 would, for the time being, not include animals involved in bullfighting, chickens and cows.

Cockfighting, wild animals and circuses

The animal welfare law shall provide for a regime of fines of up to 200.000 for a practice that is still legal in the Canary Islands and Andalusia: cockfighting.

Similarly, wild animals will also be banned in circuses, the practice of which will also be penalised with fines of up to 200,000 euros.

animal welfare law 2023

Marketing and use of animals in shop windows

The Animal Welfare Act 2023 will prohibit the use of pets, small mammals, reptiles and birds in shop windows. This is intended to prevent impulse purchases and animals developing in a stressful commercial environment.

Similarly, it will prohibit the marketing of dogs, cats and ferrets in pet shops. 
In this regard, since the entry into force of the Animal Welfare Act 2023, the shops shall have 12 months to cease the sale of these animals.

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