Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Shel­ley Lid­dell slid­dell@cb­

THE SPAN­ISH gov­ern­ment has taken the first steps to make the nec­es­sary changes in leg­is­la­tion to recog­nise an­i­mals as sen­tient be­ings, and not 'things' as they are legally con­sid­ered now.

Three laws will have to be changed for this to hap­pen: the Civil Code, the Mort­gage Law and Code of Civil Pro­ce­dure.

On Wed­nes­day, the Span­ish Par­lia­ment voted unan­i­mously in favour of a pro­posal from the Ci­u­dadanos party to change the rel­e­vant laws so that an­i­mals could be con­sid­ered as 'sen­tient be­ings' - recog­nis­ing the fact that can feel pain and emo­tions.

It will take some months be­fore the laws will be changed, but it's cer­tainly a step in the right di­rec­tion.

So what ex­actly does this mean for pet own­ers?

Well, for starters, if you are mar­ried and get di­vorced, the pet doesn't au­to­mat­i­cally stay with the per­son who owns it on pa­per. The judge can take into ac­count who the pet will have a bet­ter life with, or he can or­der shared cus­tody.

In the case of an ac­ci­dent, your pet would be taken care of. Years ago, CBN cov­ered the case of a Bri­tish cou­ple who suf­fered a car ac­ci­dent and were taken to hos­pi­tal; their dog ran off down the mo­tor­way af­ter his tail was am­pu­tated in the crash. Luck­ily, later in the day he was picked up by some­one who saw him wan­der­ing on the road and took him to the Ali­cante shel­ter.

In the fu­ture, if this hap­pens, with­out de­lay, au­thor­i­ties will search for your dog and take him to be treated if he needs it.

Pets or farm an­i­mals can no longer be part of bank re­pos­ses­sions if own­ers de­fault on their mort­gage pay­ments. In the past, this has meant that cat­tle and horses have been left with­out proper care for months.

An­i­mals and pets can­not be part of any type of em­bargo on prop­erty any more.

At all times, pri­or­ity will be given to the an­i­mal's wel­fare. Own­ers will not be al­lowed to sub­ject their an­i­mals to cru­elty or aban­don­ment, or cause their death by cruel and un­nec­es­sary means.

The text of the new law is based on cur­rent Euro­pean laws where an­i­mals are recog­nised as liv­ing, sen­tient, non-hu­man be­ings.

Pets have feel­ings and emo­tions Photo: C. Pérez

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