An owner with his two dogs in Madrid. Álex Zea/Europa Press
Fines of 200,000 euros for illegally selling puppies and 10,000 for tying up a dog outside a shop come into effect in Spain
Animal welfare

Fines of 200,000 euros for illegally selling puppies and 10,000 for tying up a dog outside a shop come into effect in Spain

The country's new animal welfare act, which came into effect last Friday, also covers the killing of stray cats which carries a fine of up to 200,000 euros and is punishable by up to 24 months' imprisonment

Doménico Chiappe


Monday, 2 October 2023, 17:49


There are some behaviours by pet owners, such as leaving a dog tied up outside a shop or using a "choke" collar to control those animals who have more strength than the owner, which can be now be reported in Spain and punished. With the entry into force of the Animal Protection and Welfare Act from Friday 29 September, that was passed in February, several common practices are punishable by fines of hundreds, and even tens of thousands of euros.

Animal rights lawyer Eloi Sarrió, director of Aboganimal, said "the income from the penalties, according to the law, will be used for actions aimed at the protection of animals, that is, the income obtained from these concepts cannot be used for other purposes".

Minor breaches are to be sanctioned through administrative channels, while the most serious breaches will be processed through the Penal Code under the new law. Among the most frequent bad behaviours of the owners of Spain’s 13 million pets, these are the ones that are specifically prohibited and punished:


The law does not require dogs to be sterilised, "but it does require measures to be taken to prevent their reproduction, which do not have to be surgical," said Sarrió. Adopted dogs must be sterilised, but not purchased dogs, and although the law does not specify this, it is not an obligation (to neuter them). But the dog can't have offspring without it being registered. "If you are not a breeder, you can be fined if you have a pet dog and it gets pregnant. Some individuals were profiting by selling animals without being breeders, or with illegal kennels, which is punishable by a fine of 50,001 to 200,000 euros," Sarrió said.

Tying up a dog ouside a shop

Although there are some stores that place an anchor on the outside wall to tie up a pet, "having the dog tied to the door of a shop or any other public place without supervision is a minor offence and you can be fined from 500 to 10,000 euros," Sarrió said.

In a house

A domestic dog cannot be left unsupervised for 24 consecutive hours, because it is considered a minor offence with a fine of 500 to 10,000 euros. Other pets, such as cats and fish, cannot be left alone for more than three consecutive days. It is also forbidden to keep them on terraces, balconies, rooftops, storage rooms, basements, patios or in vehicles. "This is a serious offence punishable by a fine of 10,001 to 50,000 euros. Hunting dogs, livestock animals or other professional uses except circus animals are not protected by this law.

Hitting an animal

No matter what it has done, the animal must not be beaten for punishment or to make it obey. No aggressive or violent methods of training are allowed, including depriving it of food or the use of electric, impulse or choke collars, which are expressly prohibited and can be punished with a fine of 10,001 to 50,000 euros.

Abandoning an animal

The law considers it a serious offence, with fines of 10,001 to 50,000 euros, to release a pet animal into the natural environment, or onto a public road. Also it is an offence not to collect your dog from the vet, hairdresser or kennel or to not report that it has been lost or stolen.

Slaughter in kennels

An animal cannot be killed for "economic, age or overpopulation reasons", Sarrió said. "These unjustified culls were common practice in kennels to 'make room' and save money. They 'put them to sleep' when they no longer wanted them or when they were injured".

The fines range up to 200,000 euros, and the crime also carries the prospect of imprisonment. Taking the life of a pet animal outside the authorised circumstances can be a crime, punishable by imprisonment for up to 24 months. Euthanasias can also no longer be carried out in kennels by people without appropriate authorisation, which is also considered a crime of "intrusiveness".

Poisoning cats

Killing stray cats, defined as "community cats", carries a fine of up to 200,000 euros and is punishable by up to 24 months' imprisonment.

Failure to report possession of dangerous species

It will be a minor offence not to report before 29 March 2024 that you have arthropods (spiders or scorpions), fish such as piranhas or balloon fish, amphibians or venomous reptiles (coral snake, Komodo dragon or rattlesnake), reptiles heavier than two kilos, or primates and wild mammals heavier than five kilos.

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