By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 26 February 2022 • 14:56
On Friday the Council of Ministers gave the green light to what is effectively the first animal protection law in Spain, but many still don’t understand why dog owners will need training. An interview by 20minutos with Ione Belarra (Pamplona, 1987), General Secretary of Podemos and current Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 of the Government of Spa.
At the start of the interview the minister outlined why the law was necessary and what the government hoped to achieve with its implementation. Ms Belarra said that in the past, there was total impunity towards animal abuse and that had resulted in a culture that needs to be changed. She said that we need to not only put laws in place that penalise those who abuse animals but we also need to teach young boys and girls to respect the environment and all living beings.
Ms Belarra said that the government wants owners to understand the responsibilities of pet ownership, and to have this understanding they feel it is important that people have the required knowledge to look after their pet correctly.
She said the intention is to have a short informational course that can be undertaken either face to face or online, forming part of the need to change the culture and understanding of pet ownership. What they want to avoid is the situation where people acquire only to abandon them when they realise what is involved, as they do the possibility of the pet being abused after taking ownership.
The course has yet to be designed, suffice to say that professionals and vets will be involved.
The question was asked as to whether socialisation was needed to which Ms Belarra replied that it is necessary to protect people from the possibility of being harmed by a pet. Details of how this might work and what will be involved has yet to be worked out according to the minister, suffice to say they wish to remove dangerous breeds and animals with behavioural issues.
Ms Belarra said that dogs are dogs and all will be protected by the law, however it is important to make some distinctions. For example to have a hunting licence you will already need to comply with hunting laws that govern the “sport” and the use of hunting dogs. That includes having the dogs chipped and holding the requisite insurance.
What is different is that those who keep hunting dogs will have to sterilise all their animals unless they have a breeding licence. They will also have to be chipped (this is already a requirement) and if not kept indoors fitted with a geolocation device enabling them to be tracked.
The government wants to crackdown on the abandonment of animals and to do this it is necessary to restrict breeding and the sale of pets. At the same it is also important in the minister’s view to make sure all pets are chipped and vaccinated as that will greatly help the problem.
At the same time there is a realisation that animal charities do a significant amount if important work in looking after abandoned pets, and without any support. The government wants to change that by following the example of more forward thinking municipalities who provide direct funding and support to those organisations undertaking this vital work.
The government wants to work towards a situation where these organisations are properly funded and supported for the valuable work that they do.
According to Ms Belarra: “The Government is doing its part, it is promoting legislation that makes us equal to Europe. Demanding it from the Autonomous Communities is a matter of co-responsibility”
Ms Belarra says that there is understandably a gap between the understanding of politicians residing in Madrid and those who live and work in the fields. However she says we understand that there is as we do the need for dialogue and discussion, so that in the long run we can change attitudes and the culture that still results in the abuse of animals.
The explanation the minister gives as to why dog owners will need training helps not only to clarify the reasoning, but it also gives readers a better understanding of the issues and the longer term goal of bringing Spain’s laws and treatment of animals in line with the best in the EU.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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