Good Friday: Animal welfare law effective

Spain's exotic pet law now in effect

Image of a man holding a green lizard iguana. Credit: Cocos.Bounty/

This Good Friday marks a significant turning point for pet owners across the nation, as the new animal welfare law rolls into effect.

Today, Friday, March 29, the new law imposes strict regulations on the ownership of certain wild and exotic animals. However, some have criticised the shortage of centres able to accommodate these pets

Individuals who possess pets that are now deemed illegal, face a crucial deadline. They are required to report their ownership to the authorities or face severe penalties.

Such pets include venomous creatures like scorpions, reptiles weighing over two kilos such as iguanas, any primate species, and wild mammals heavier than five kilos such as the Vietnamese pig.

Impact on circuses and homeowners

The legislation not only bans the captivity of wild animals and their use in entertainment but also ends a six-month grace period for circuses to comply.

The law’s reach extends beyond public entertainment, impacting private pet owners who now confront the end of a grace period to declare their animals.

Those found guilty of illegal possession or trafficking of protected or banned species could incur fines up to €30,000 for the most severe breaches, €2,000 for significant infractions, and up to €500 for minor offences.

A call for infrastructure

Despite the law’s intent, there’s a growing chorus of concern over its practical implications. Many have highlighted a lack of preparedness for the law’s consequences. They argue that there has been no infrastructure brought in to house the potential influx of animals. .

Critics argue that the legislation was enacted without adequate consultation with hobbyists, veterinarians, or scientists.

The road ahead

The uncertainty now facing pet owners is palpable, with many reluctant to part with their animals. The coming weeks will undoubtedly reveal the law’s real-world effects, as pet owners navigate this new legal landscape.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.