28th February 2024
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Animal rights groups in Spain rally for more protection for hunting dogs

#UPDATED – The Spanish Congress on Thursday passed the new animal rights bill that has stirred controversy [see report below] as it excludes hunting dogs and other animals used in traditional rural activities, and which critics say panders to the country’s powerful hunting lobby. The bill now has to pass through the senate house.

Original report below:

Animal rights groups in Spain marched last Sunday to protest a new animal welfare law proposed by the Spanish government that seeks to advance the protection of animal rights, but which excludes hunting dogs. Protests took place in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Logroño and Zaragoza.

The protests come four days before the Spanish Congress is due to vote on the new animal rights bill proposed by the ruling coalition of the PSOE socialists and left-wing Podemos group. The draft law exposed divisions, with rural voters arguing that sections of the bill would effectively legislate hunting out of existence.

Animal rights groups are protesting against the last-minute amendment that excludes hunting dogs from the law’s protection, which was added to meet the hunting lobbies’ demands. They claim that the government added the amendment through a fear of losing the rural vote in a year of elections.

Protesters, many of whom brought their dogs along, held signs including ‘killing is not a sport’ and chanted ‘stop hunting’.

Under the ‘same dogs, same law’ slogan, thousands marched in Madrid and other cities in coordinated demonstrations to urge the government to restore hunting dogs to the law, which raises fines for animal abuse to €200,000 and introduces a possible two-year jail sentence for the most serious cases.

The abandoning of thousands of greyhounds at the end of every hunting season has earned social attention in the last years in Spain, where the adoption of these animals as house pets has noticeably increased as people become aware of the harsh conditions many of them endure in the countryside. In Spain, greyhounds are used to hunt animals such as rabbits, deer, wild boar and pheasants.

The ‘No hunting’ platform’s spokesperson, David Rubio, said that Spain is not only the only country left in Europe that allows hunting with dogs but it also holds the record for most dogs abandoned in the EU. The CAS animal rights organisation claims that 50,000 hunting dogs are discarded every year in Spain.

The hunting industry generates more than 5 billion euros a year in economic activity, figures from Deloitte show.

ALSO READ: New law is passed to treat animals in Spain as ‘sentient beings’.

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