Up to 2 years in prison for killing an animal in Spain

First Spain-wide animal protection law passed to prevent pets from being abused, abandoned, or unnecessarily put to sleep

A dog in Barcelona (by Gerard Escaich Folch)
A dog in Barcelona (by Gerard Escaich Folch) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

February 18, 2022 03:51 PM

Spain’s first animal protection law was approved on Friday to fight animal cruelty, especially abuse, abandonment, sacrifice, and death. Killing an animal will incur sentences of up to 24 months in prison.

The new law will now be sent to Congress and will be included in Spain’s Penal Code.

The norm, promoted by the social rights ministry, will also see people who abuse animals sentenced to up to 18 months behind bars.

"With this law, we start the process of putting an end to the impunity of animal abusers in our country," Ione Belarra, the social rights minister said in a press conference.

Selling animals in pet stores and having them on display in public with the aim of selling them will also be forbidden from now on, as will activities such as “medieval” cockfighting. Only those with licenses will be allowed to breed animals.

A new pet registry

To make sure people comply with the law, the government has announced that they will create a pet registry.

Official records will provide information on the number of animals who have been abandoned, abused, or adopted. From now on, the identification and vaccination of pets will also be compulsory.

The law may also forbid felons from working or living with animals for five years. The Spanish government also believes harming animals can be used as a gender-based violence tactic.

Zoos will eventually become shelters for the recovery of local species, similar to that the Barcelona Zoo has been striving for in the past few years.

Listen to our podcast to find out how the Barcelona Zoo is trying to become a research center.

Barcelona, an animal-friendly city

The Catalan capital has long been at the forefront of the animal rights movement. In late 2002 it became the first city in Spain to stop putting healthy shelter animals, as well as those with treatable illnesses, to sleep; two years later the council famously declared the city to be against bullfighting. 

Catalonia followed suit on both fronts: in 2008 all of its shelters became no-kill, while in 2010 it outlawed bullfighting

Although bullfighting is, for now, here to stay in other parts of Spain, it could soon be taking steps in the same direction when it comes to no-kill shelters