May 28, 2024

Spanish pets must be offered alternatives to euthanasia

In a significant development for animal welfare in Spain, legislation aimed at curbing the mistreatment and abandonment of animals officially took effect last month, as reported by Reuters. Recent figures from the Affinity Foundation, show that in 2022, more than 288,000 dogs and cats were abandoned in Spain, underscoring a pressing need for legislation.

The law prohibits the sale of dogs, cats, and ferrets in pet stores, bans electronic or punitive dog collars, and orders owners to spay their cats unless they possess a breeding permit.

There are exceptions, particularly for hunting dogs and other working animals involved in activities such as bullfighting. This irritates the government’s coalition partner, Podemos, which has accused the ruling Socialists of catering to the influential hunting lobby.

The animal cruelty law is vague about how euthanasia should be applied to pets. This could hinder veterinarians and pet owners from making the humane decision to euthanize sick animals when palliative care options exist.

Under the new law, veterinarians must offer alternative treatments such as dialysis or the installation of pacemakers as alternatives to euthanasia. Fernandez pointed out that not all pet owners may have the means to afford these advanced treatments.

Spain legalised euthanasia for humans in 2021. Doctors are not obliged to offer additional treatment or palliative care for them.

Maria Luisa Fernandez, the director of small animals at the Spanish Veterinary Association, hailed this legislation as a pivotal milestone in Spain’s legal framework. She went on to describe it as one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation in Europe aimed at safeguarding animal rights.

However, Fernandez suggested that a phased approach, especially concerning euthanasia provisions, might have been more effective in addressing the complex realities of animal welfare in Spain.