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Home / Spanish Congress approves animal welfare law without hunting dogs

Spanish Congress approves animal welfare law without hunting dogs


The Spanish Congress approved the first national animal welfare law on 9 February. A great step for many animals, but unfortunately bulls from the bullfighting sector and hunting dogs were not included in this law.


© CAS International/AnimaNaturalis

We knew from the beginning that bulls would not be included in the law. We knew that any animal welfare law that did protect the bulls would be voted down immediately. But we had so much hope for hunting dogs, which were included in the law in the initial stages! Because more than 50,000 dogs are discarded every year after the hunting season and hung from trees, thrown into pits or simply dumped as a used item. All because the hunter no longer needs them for hunting. Under pressure from the hunting lobby, the PSOE socialist party decided to remove hunting dogs from the law.


The animal welfare law was approved by Congress with 174 votes in favor, 167 against and seven abstentions. The amendments to the Criminal Code (Código Penal) related to some crimes against animals were passed with 178 votes in favor, 165 against and six abstentions. The next step is the vote by the Senate. What is currently in the animal welfare law ?

  • No kill policy for dogs and cats. This has major implications due to killing stations in Spain
  • Ban on circuses with wild animals
  • Ban on cockfighting
  • Prohibition of use of animals for merry-go-rounds
  • Prohibition of using animals in festivals (romerías, eventos feriados) during high temperatures and/or setting off fireworks
  • Ethical population management of colonies of stray cats
  • Pet breeding by private individuals is restricted. Breeding can only be carried out by people registered as breeders
  • One must take a course on responsible pet keeping
  • Ban on selling pets in shops and displaying them for commercial purposes
  • Pets living in open spaces must have access to clean water and food
  • Dogs and cats can no longer be kept in terraces, balconies, patios, cars, etc.
  • Prohibition of utensils that restrict or prevent an animal’s freedom of movement (except for veterinary treatment)
  • Animals should not be left alone without supervision for more than three days. For dogs, this is a maximum of 24 hours
  • There will be a positive list for pets. Excluded are exotic animals, endangered species or poisonous animals
  • A primate law is being drafted
  • There will be state registers for the identification of pets, breeders and people banned from keeping animals
  • Institutions will be created to combat animal cruelty and abandonment


Several political parties in Congress presented various amendments. A number have been accepted. These include a new definition for assistance animals. These include guard, herding, guide, hunting and rescue dogs. The Animal Welfare law would then only be applied to domestic animals. An amendment was also passed on the transport of hunting dogs, among others. These should be transported in suitable premises. It is also necessary to specify what competences autonomous regions have in relation to the national animal welfare law. This is relevant because autonomous regions have their own animal welfare laws.

© CAS International/AnimaNaturalis

Different opinions

There are different opinions on the interpretation of the law by animal welfare organizations and animal law experts. For instance, there are concerns that there are contradictions between the national animal welfare law and the laws of autonomous regions. In contrast, others argue that this is not the case and that the animal welfare law serves as the basis, and the autonomous regions as a supplement. There are also animal welfare organizations that are not happy with the law because many animals are not included in it. But other organizations, including CAS, see it as a step forward. Admittedly a small step, but the chance for a national animal law in Spain’s current political landscape. If the law is approved by the Senate, it will be further worked on in the coming years.

Maite van Gerwen, director of CAS, said:

“It is a great step that this law has been passed in the Spanish Congress. Even though many animals are now still outside the law, you have to start somewhere. Every step is one. In a country like the Netherlands, you also see that animal legislation has become more extensive over time. So I hope this Spanish law is a stepping stone to more.”

Fight for hunting dogs

From CAS, we will of course continue our fight for hunting dogs and bulls from the bullfighting sector. Thanks to the new law, there has been a public debate about the welfare of hunting dogs. Before this, many Spaniards knew nothing about the 50,000 discarded hunting dogs every year. And we now know that 80% of the Spanish population is against hunting.

Over the past two years, CAS has worked intensively with the Spanish organization AnimaNaturalis to improve the welfare of these dogs. For example, we conduct research and lobby the government for the protection of hunting dogs by law. In 2022, we conducted research on kennels at hunters in 29 different locations. We found hunting dogs sitting in their own faeces and depending on contaminated water in their drinking troughs. According to the vets who participated in our study, the dogs exhibited behavior resulting from prolonged captivity. Chains also restricted animals’ movement and showed signs of poor health such as lameness. Watch footage of the investigation into the kennels below.

We are, of course, continuing to do research. Would you like to help with this? Please support us so that we can continue with our research, setting up awareness campaigns and carrying out political lobbying!

Please sign our petition for a better protection of dogs used to hunt in Spain!

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