Spanish pets are legally part of the family from 5 January

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Spanish pets
Photo by Andrew S on Unsplash

From this coming Wednesday 5 January, pets will have a different legal status in the country of Spain, meaning they are no longer classed as ‘material things’ but as living beings with sensitivity. This means that Spanish pets can be considered as part of the family and arrangements must be made for them accordingly.

This change is due to a triple legal reform of the Civil Code, the Mortgage Law and the Procedure law. The changes were finally approved by the Congress of Deputies on 2 December and published on 16 December in the Official State Gazette (BOE). While the BOE text does not clearly specify when it will come into effect, Parliamentary sources told 20minutos this means a certain time frame is applied. This is called the “vacatio legis” and it has a standard of 20 days after publication. This will make the implementation date Wednesday 5 January.

The new rules regulate that the joint custody of Spanish pets in the event of divorce or separation and also indicates that pets should not be seized or mortgaged. They should not be abandoned, cause suffering or pain, and that they should not be used as a tool in gender violence.

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The initiative was presented by the PSOE and is made up of other proposals that have been put forward before. The main origin is in a popular legislative initiative promoted in 2015 by the Animal Justice and Defense Observatory, which collected more than 500,000 signatures so that animals stop being things in the Civil Code and would be instead moved to be considered sentient beings.

The law introduces a new article in the Civil Code that considers that “animals are living beings endowed with sensitivity” and that the owner must exercise his rights over him and his duties of care respecting that quality and ensure “their well-being according to the characteristics of each species “.

The measures adopted by the judge in the event of divorce, annulment or separation may be judicially modified or by a new agreement when not only the needs of the children or the change in the circumstances of the spouses advise it, but also “the new needs of companion animals “.



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