Spain’s new law recognises animals as ‘sentient beings’

Pets and wild species will no longer be considered as ‘objects’ in the Spanish Civil Code.

The new legislation ensures that animals will be treated as “sentient beings,” and have a different legal standing than inanimate objects.

This is an important law as it protects them from being seized, abandoned, mistreated or separated from their owners in the case of a divorce or separation, without consideration for their wellbeing and protection, El Pais reports.

Earlier animals were recognised as sentient beings, with rights under Spain’s Criminal Code but not the Civil Code which covers issues relating to property, family and obligations. Until now, “animals were not considered different from a television” in divorce cases, Guillermo Díaz, from the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) said while defending the law.

“It’s a step forward and it says that in separations and divorces, the arrangement that will be applied to the animals will take into account not only the interests of the humans, but also of the animal,” explained María González Lacabex, from INTERcids, a legal organisation focused on animal protection.

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