Keys to the new animal welfare and protection law that comes into force in Spain on September 29

Ending abandonment and abuse, controlling reproduction and regulating marketing are three of the objectives of the new Law on the Protection, Rights and Welfare of Animals.

It affects domestic animals, excluding (among others) those used in professional activities.

In other articles we have already talked to you about the controversy generated by the new law and given the imminent entry into force of the new law we analyze its most important points and what it means for animals and owners.


The Animal Protection, Rights and Welfare Act has taken about a year to become a reality. In September of last year, its processing was agreed and, after months of work and several modifications, the law was approved last March.

Its objective is to regulate the recognition and protection of the dignity of animals by society. The standard reinforces and develops the consideration of animals as “living beings endowed with sensitivity”, a definition already established in January 2022, thanks to the modification of the Civil Code. Thus, for just over a year, animals have stopped being considered as “things” in the legal and social environment, being valued as living beings, “with the capacity to think and feel.”

This law also entails the reform of the Penal Code regarding animal abuse."The Law was and is necessary, we are the country with one of the highest rates of abuse and abandonment in Europe, it seems obvious that these are the fundamental objectives of the legislator and to do it at the national level to, at least, set a standard of minimums alike. Regulating breeding, preventing and prosecuting abandonment, fighting the underground economy and the sale of animals should be crucial aspects of the law,” explains Nuria Máximo, director of the Animals and Society Chair, at the Rey Juan Carlos University (Madrid).


Despite the good intention, the drafting of the animal law has not been free of controversy. Different groups, such as veterinarians or scientists, have expressed their disagreement and concern about certain points of the rule, such as the exclusion of animals used in professional and sporting activities. “Not only hunting dogs, but also the working dogs of the State Forces and Security and the animals of assisted interventions”, Nuria Máximo clarifies.

“Despite trying to be more restrictive or seeking to provide more protection and rights to animals, it is not so in practice, since there are gaps that mean that domestic animals are not as protected as they should be,” recognizes the expert.


The purpose of the norm is to regulate the recognition and protection of animals. It also aims to implement legal mechanisms that promote their protection and prevent the high level of abandonment in our country.

In Spain, one in three households lives with a pet and there are more than 13 million pets registered and identified. However, according to the Affinity Foundation, on average about 460 dogs are abandoned every day.


This law addresses companion animals, defined as “domestic or wild animals in captivity, kept by humans, mainly in the home, as long as they can be kept in good conditions and that their possession is not intended for consumption.” or the use of their productions.

Given the uncertainty in the sector and despite, as we noted, the imminent application of the new law, a definitive list of which these companion animals are, as established in it, is still pending.

The legal text does not yet specify which species are part of that list, only dogs, cats and ferrets are mentioned, waiting for the Scientific and Technical Committee for the Protection and Rights of Animals to prepare the final list.

This list would be developed in a maximum period of between three and four years, and will be organized into lists of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.


· Production animals, such as cows, chickens, pigs or goats.
· Those raised, maintained and used in experimentation and other scientific purposes, including teaching, and those used in veterinary research.
· Wild ones, except those included in the list.
· Those used in specific activities, such as sports, recognized by the Higher Sports Council. Also falconry birds, shepherd and livestock guard dogs and those used in professional activities, such as rescue dogs, those used in assisted interventions or those of the Security Forces and Bodies.
· Hunting dogs or hunting auxiliary dogs.
· Those used in bullfighting shows.


The person responsible for the animal will be obliged to keep it “in decent living conditions that guarantee its well-being, rights and healthy development.” If the animal, due to its characteristics and species, must live permanently in a cage, aquarium, terrarium or similar facility, it must have an adequate space in accordance with the regulations that are developed subsequent to the law.

It is prohibited to leave an animal unattended for more than three consecutive days at home (in the case of dogs, this period is reduced to 24 hours). They also cannot be left alone inside closed vehicles, exposed to extreme thermal or any other conditions that could put their life in danger. The owner must educate and handle the animal without using abuse and without causing harm, anxiety or fear.

Likewise, the person must monitor and prevent the animal from escaping, keeping it located and identified in accordance with the regulations. In any case, if the animal disappears or is stolen, it is mandatory to notify the relevant authorities within a maximum period of 48 hours.

The owner must provide the necessary health care to guarantee its health and, in any case, those stipulated as mandatory according to regulations, going to the veterinarian with the established frequency and whenever the animal's behavior requires it.

The owner will also be responsible for any possible damage, harm or inconvenience that it may cause to people, other animals or things, roads and public spaces and the natural environment.


The law prohibits the direct sale of any type of pet through the Internet or any telematic means or application. Also in pet stores or by individuals. They can only be purchased from registered breeders and without the intervention of intermediaries. Dogs and cats must be at least two months old at the time of sale.

Adoption can only be carried out through public animal protection centers or registered entities.


Pets may access any means of public and private transportation, as long as they do not constitute a risk to people, other animals or things.

Hotel accommodations, restaurants and bars may also facilitate the entry of pets. If they do not do so, they must display a badge that indicates this and that is visible from the outside.

They will also have access to public buildings and facilities, shelters, refuges and care centers intended to care for people at risk of exclusion, homeless people or victims of gender violence.


The law classifies three types of infractions with their corresponding penalties.

- Minor infraction

A minor infraction, for example, is allowing animals to roam through public spaces unsupervised, not having public liability insurance, or not sterilizing animals that have uncontrolled access to other animals.

Penalty: from 500 to 10,000 euros.

- Serious infraction

As serious infractions, the law considers the use of aggressive or violent methods in the education of the animal (such as electric collars, impulse, punishment or choking), abandoning or leaving any companion animal unsupervised for more than three consecutive days. (in the case of dogs, 24 hours) and permanently keep dogs or cats on terraces, balconies, roof terraces, storage rooms, basements, backyards and similar or vehicles.

Penalty: from 10.001 and 50.000 euros.

- Very serious infraction:

Among the very serious infractions are the euthanasia of animals with inadequate means, the training and use of animals for fighting, the killing of community cats outside of authorized cases or the breeding, trade or exhibition of animals for commercial purposes by people. unauthorized.

Penalty: from 50.001 and 200.000 euros.
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