MADRID (AP) — Animal rights groups and pet shop owners marched Sunday in separate demonstrations to protest a new animal welfare law proposed by the Spanish government that seeks to advance the protection of animal rights.
The draft legislation has fueled criticism by animal rights groups after a last-minute amendment excluded hunting dogs from the law’s protection, meeting hunting lobbies’ demands.
Under the “same dogs, same law” slogan, thousands marched in Madrid and dozens of other Spanish cities in coordinated demonstrations to urge the government to restore hunting dogs to the law, which raises fines for animal abuse to 200,000 euros ($216,000) 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 as people 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 ‘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.
A few streets away, pet shop owners protested, saying they will be forced to close their businesses under the new law because it only allows licensed breeders to sell cats, dogs, and ferrets. Thousands of jobs will be lost, they say, and the black market for pets and exotic animals will grow.