A BILL is being finalised by the Spanish Congress which will change animals’ legal status from being objects to sentient beings.
This would stop the practice of pets being seized along with other ‘assets’ in cases of payment defaults.
It would also make it possible for intermediaries to decide which partner gets custody of a pet after a divorce or separation, with the priority placed on the animal’s welfare.
And mortgage and civil procedure legislation will have to be modified to ensure they cannot be confiscated.
Under the current Spanish Civil Code, animals are classed as movable property.
But now political parties are drafting the final text after introducing 115 amendments to the original document over the last 12 months.
The updated draft is expected to be finalised by February, 2019.
Animal rights groups have welcomed the measure, although they reportedly deem it insufficient.
Spokesman for the international group Animal Equality, Javier Moreno, said that Spain needs a nationwide animal protection law so that it is not up to each regional government to draft policies about issues such as putting down pets.
And lawyer for the animal rights party Pacma, Eva Ramos, said the bill must clearly define what constitutes a pet, and address the possibility of temporary custody of the animal if there is abuse.
She added that animal abuse is often used as a tool of control by a spouse in gender violence cases, claiming there are cases of ‘people who are being themselves abused, but they are incapable of leaving the home because they don’t want to abandon their animals’.