As of Jan. 5, pets in Spain will now officially be considered sentient beings under the law and will no longer be classified as ‘objects,’ meaning animals will be legitimate members of the family — a trend that was already underway before the formal law was passed. This decision follows similar moves in France and Portugal.
“Animals are part of the family and when a family decides to separate, the fate of the animal must be regulated with the same importance as the fate of other family members,” said lawyer Lola Garcia, 42.
In October, a Madrid judge granted joint custody of a dog to an unmarried couple who sought a court ruling on the matter. The dog spends a month with each of them, and both are considered legal responsible.
Garcia’s firm, Rights&Animals, handled the case and considers this reform a major first step in future legal changes regarding people’s relationships with animals.
Spain’s left-wing coalition government plans to further legislation to strengthen animal rights, including a ban on wild animals in circuses and halting the sale of pets in shops.
The law does not include animals from livestock, industrial or recreational farms as they are not considered companion pets.
Image source: Expatica