Spanish Judges Must Now Weigh Pets’ Welfare in Custody Battles
(Bloomberg) -- In Spain, judges have one more thing to weigh in custody battles -- animals’ feelings.
Under a new law identifying animals as sentient, judges must consider their welfare when deciding who gets to keep pets after a couple breaks up. They will also decide how to split the costs of care between warring former partners.
The new rules reflects “not only the animals’ true nature, but also the nature of relationships that are set between them and human beings,” according to an explanation of the law in the official Gazette, which publishes legislation.
The law also allows heirs more easily inherit an animal, and stops pets being seized as a result of an owner’s bad debts.
In a country famed for bullfighting, the law highlights the current influence of Spain’s left, which tends to focus on issues such as animal welfare and civil rights. As well as protecting animals’ feelings, the ruling coalition’s junior partner, Unidas Podemos, is backing draft legislation seeking to end animal abandonment and stop their killing without a fair cause.
The rules will be focused on pets, and won’t apply to food production, cattle and bullfighting.
Spain’s moves once again highlights the central place of pets in some lives, with Pope Francis last week accusing couples who prefer to have pets than children of selfishness.
”We see that some people do not want to have a child,” he said. “Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children.”
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