Experts are drawing up a list of permitted pets. / sur

Spain's new animal protection law: when will I know whether I can keep my pet or not?

Some animal lovers are becoming concerned about whether their pet will be considered illegal and what to do if it is


Spain is introducing a new animal protection law and this has raised questions about which pets people will be allowed to have once it comes into force. Will the guinea pig, tortoise or rabbit they have had for years be allowed to stay? And if not, what will happen to them?

There has been talk about animals such as rabbits, rodents, tortoises, birds, exotic reptiles, spiders, Vietnamese pigs and hedgehogs being banned. That could be for several reasons, including those considered invasive species, or in danger of extinction, or those whose needs cannot be met in a private home.

Since 2013 Spain has had a list of invasive species which are not permitted, and it includes raccoons, some types of parrot, some species of turtle and coatis. However, for the new law a team of experts are drawing up a list of animals which are permissible as pets, although it will specify which type of each species this applies to.

Animals will be considered sentient beings

When will it be available? The law stipulates that it must be published no longer than 48 months after the new animal protection law comes into force, so it could be quite a while until we know what it says.

The new law will also make it obligatory to sterilise pets that do not live with their owners, to prevent uncontrolled breeding. Every dog owner will have to insure their pet and attend a course on how to look after a dog.

One major point of this legislation is that animals will no longer be considered ‘things’ and will be considered ‘sentient beings’ and fines will be imposed for those who fail to comply. Minor infractions can incur fines between 500 and 10,000 euros, serious offences between 10,001 and 50,000 euros and very serious ones will be punished with a fine of between 50,001 and 200,000 euros.