The new progressive animal protection law that the Spanish government proposed last year may not go ahead because the Spanish hunting fraternity does not like it. The proposal would reform the treatment of animals in captivity, and it includes plans to ban the sale of dogs and cats in shops, ban wild animals in circuses, reform zoos, and impose prison sentences for animal abusers. However, in December 2022, Spain’s ruling Socialist party, after receiving pressure from the hunting fraternity, introduced an amendment excluding hunting dogs and other animals involved in traditional rural activities. With that amendment, the bill may no longer be supported by the majority of lawmakers in the Spanish Congress, so it may either be withdrawn or not passed.

The amendment was tabled in defiance of the left-wing Podemos party, a government coalition partner that supported the original proposal. Sergio Garcia Torres, a senior Podemos official, said to Euronews that the Socialists should retract the amendment, arguing that it might not pass in a February parliamentary session because the exclusion of working animals means it no longer addresses the root causes of animal abandonment. He said, “The Socialist Party has time to react and return to the consensus we had. There is no parliamentary support now to bring out a law excluding hunting dogs.”

In Spain, dogs are used in hunting to track or capture deer, wild boar, and rabbits. Hunters often abandon or kill dogs because they do not longer do what they demand from them. According to the Affinity Foundation, about 167,000 dogs were abandoned in Spain in 2021, many right after the end of the hunting season. The Royal Spanish Hunting Federation, which represents 337,000 hunters, claims that the part of the bill aimed at reducing the number of stray animals would mean the demise of hunting. According to Deloitte, the hunting sector generates more than €5 billion a year in economic activity. The Spanish hunting fraternity is a powerful lobby, and now that elections are coming, the socialists are worried they could lose votes if they do not exclude hunting dogs from protection. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.