Spain Passes Animal Rights Law, but Excludes Hunting Dogs

Spain Passes Animal Rights Law, but Excludes Hunting Dogs
Spain Passes Animal Rights Law, but Excludes Hunting Dogs

(Picture Credit: Ana Fernandez / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Last week, Reuters reported that politicians in Spain passed a new law expanding domestic animal rights. Yet, the law exempted traditional Spanish hunting dogs. Historically, people label hunting dogs in Spain as working animals. This disqualifies them from expanded rights.

According to the article, the bill “excludes hunting dogs and other animals used in traditional rural activities”. Deridingly, critics say this last-minute change panders to the country’s formidable hunting lobby. In Spain, the hunting industry brings in over $5 billion annually.

The Royal Spanish Hunting Federation says that sections of the bill would make hunting with dogs disappear. Significantly, the bill also outlawed retail pet sales and imposed prison sentences for animal abusers. It will also turn zoos into “wildlife recovery centers”.

Spain’s Traditional Dog Hunting Traditions

The Spanish Greyhound, locally known as galgos, is an ancient European dog breed. For centuries, the Spanish have hunted with these dogs in a practice called hare coursing. In hare coursing, a pair of galgos are set loose after a rabbit across open land. Interestingly, the Daily Mail said that the government outlawed the practice in the UK in 2004. In Spain, the hunting season lasts four months and is a central part of rural Spanish culture. Similarly to other animal sports, betting is customary.

Unfortunately, in Spain, galgos are regularly abused, abandoned, and even killed. During the hunting season, galgos are regularly starved and kept in dark, unsanitary cages. Even worse, people will regularly abuse the losing dogs. Reportedly, people have hung dogs from trees with wire or dropped them into wells.According to UK-born animal advocate Anna Clements, galgos are simply a tool hunters use and then discard.

A Disservice to Dogs and Animal Rights Advocates

Not surprisingly, animal rights groups decried the last-minute exemptions.

The law enjoyed broad support. But, lawmakers working with the ruling Socialist party expressed worry. They thought that stricter laws would push rural voters toward the right. Even so, Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra asked for forgiveness. She said that excluding hunting dogs would mean that abusers wouldn’t get punished. 

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