MADRID (AP) – Animal rights groups and pet shop owners marched in separate demonstrations Sunday to protest a new animal welfare law proposed by the Spanish government that seeks to improve animal rights protections.
The bill drew criticism from animal rights groups after a last-minute amendment excluded hunting dogs from the law’s protections, meeting demands from hunting lobbies.
Under the slogan “same dogs, same law”, thousands of people marched in Madrid and dozens of other Spanish cities in coordinated demonstrations to call on the government to reinstate hunting dogs in the law, which raises fines for animal abuse to 200,000 euros ($216,000) and introduces a possible sentence of two years in prison for the most serious cases.
The abandonment of thousands of greyhounds at the end of each hunting season has attracted public attention in recent years in Spain, where the adoption of these animals as pets has been noticeable as people have become aware of the harsh conditions many of them endure in the countryside. . Greyhounds are used to hunt animals such as rabbits and pheasants.
The spokesperson of the ‘No Hunting’ platform, David Rubio, said that Spain is not only the only remaining country in Europe that allows hunting with dogs, but also holds the record for the most abandoned dogs in the EU.
A few streets away, pet shop owners protested, saying the new law would force them to close because it only allows licensed breeders to sell cats, dogs and ferrets. Thousands of jobs, they say, will be lost, and the black market for pets and exotic animals will grow.