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Why - Legislation

Spain has a well-structured system of laws for animal protection and welfare in Spain. The central government is responsible for the laws related to wildlife protection, sanctions for animal abuse at all levels and sanitary requirements for domestic and farm animals. Sanctions for cruelty to animals are clearly stated in article 337 of the Spanish Penal Code. Anyone mistreating a domestic animal causing death, injuries or physical impairments will be punished with a prison sentence and subsequent disqualification from any trade or business related to animals.

On the other hand, each Autonomous Community impose their own Animal Welfare Act. In general these laws prohibit::

  • The use of animals in activities that may result in death, abuse, suffering or are inappropriate to their status as living sensitive beings.
  • he use of animals in performances that are foreign to their natural behavior and may offend the audience.
  • To mistreat and aggress animals or use any other practice provoking suffering or unjustified damage, both physical and/or psychological.
  • To keep animals in improper sanitary and hygienic conditions or in housings that are inadequate in relation to their size, race and species. (Some Autonomous Communities specifically prohibit keeping animals in public or private enclosures or places exposed to lighting, noise, smoke, etc. that can physically or psychologically harm them.
  • To give animals any kind of substances, in particular during a competition to increase their performance or to make them submissive for photo shoots.
  • The filming of scenes involving animal cruelty, abuse or death. Unauthorized simulations of animal cruelty, abuse and death in audiovisual productions.
  • To make them carry out tasks that are inappropriate of their species, use them in abusive manners and submit them to unnecessary suffering.
  • Animal mutilation (including the common surgical removal of claws or teeth).

Additionally, there are National Laws on the Ownership of Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Domestic Animals. Some Autonomous Communities also include the ownership of exotic and wild animals. They generally prohibit the following:

  • Keeping dangerous animals in improper enclosures that do not ensure the necessary security measures.
  • Their display in public spaces that do not have a zoological permit.
  • Possession without a permit.
  • To train them without an accredited Training Certificate.
  • Not to procure and maintain a liability insurance policy.

The use of animals in advertising require a prior authorization by the proper authority of each Autonomous Community, usually the Ministry of the Environment or Department of Animal Health. General requirements to obtain these authorizations are:

  • Health certificates for certain species.
  • Certificates of the Official Veterinary Services to transport animals.
  • Information on the future facilities to accommodate the animals.
  • Certification of a veterinarian stating that the animals are kept in proper conditions in facilities that meet the requirements established by the Animal Welfare Act, and that the animals are not subjected to any situation that might cause them pain, anxiety or fear.

Any facility housing dangerous wild animals such as elephants or big cats, even temporarily, need to have a zoological permit. Depending on the species and its origin, some animals can only be accommodated in centers approved by the European Directive Balai. Transport of these animals has to meet a set of requirements regarding the conditions and means of transport to ensure their welfare and protection, such as the use of an authorized vehicle and employing personnel trained in the field of animal welfare.

A Royal Decree lays down the animal health conditions for primates and prohibits private ownership.

The Native Wildlife Protection Act of each Autonomous Community establishes limitations on the use of protected native wildlife, in some cases even regardless of the origin. For example, in Catalonia the use of brown bears in audiovisual productions is prohibited.

There are also international frameworks on wildlife protection such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) with the aim to ensure ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The species of animals and plants protected by CITES are listed in the three CITES Appendices.

Consult Animal Law here:

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