Juan Antonio de Luque said the proposed penalties are still too soft. / sur

Vets call for harsher animal cruelty sentences in Spain

The new animal cruelty law, which is still being finalised, includes penalties for people convicted of harming, killing or abandoning an animal but the Veterinary College of Malaga believes these need to be much tougher

IGNACIO LILLO MALAGA.

The new animal cruelty law in Spain, which is still being finalised, includes penalties for people convicted of harming, killing or abandoning an animal but the Veterinary College of Malaga believes these need to be much harsher. The College president, Juan Antonio de Luque, has appeared in the Spanish parliament to update MPs on the situation as the vets see it, and to explain why they believe the new penalties do not go far enough.

The government has proposed a 3-18 month prison term or a fine to be paid monthly for 6-12 months for animal cruelty and 12-24 months in jail or a fine of 18 to 24 months for anyone responsible for an animal’s death. For abandoning an animal, it suggests a fine of 1-6 months or community work from 31 to 90 days.

De Luque recognises that these are harsher than before, but he told MPs that they are still far too soft.

“The only way of preventing animals being abandoned is for it to be made compulsory for all pets to have identification, and I don’t just mean dogs, cats and ferrets but turtles and birds, rabbits and chinchillas as well,” he insisted, “and there needs to be better education about animal welfare and more severe penalties for those who do not comply with the rules. That is the only way to fight against animals being ill-treated and abandoned”.

With regard to controlling urban colonies of cats, De Luque pointed to the success of the model used in Malaga, which he believes should be extended nationwide. It consists, among other measures, of strays being neutered and returned to the streets, and for local councils to be responsible for registering and monitoring the colonies.

Over 6,000 proposed amendments

De Luque also stressed that this draft law has received more complaints and suggested amendments than any other, with over 6,000 from individuals and associations and 600 from political parties. He said it contains some positive aspects, but still lacks other measures such as periodic check-ups for pets and obligatory treatments. He also called on the government to slash the rate of the IVA sales tax for veterinary services so that more people can afford to use them.