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ANIMAL PROTECTION

Madrid moves closer to ban on putting down abandoned pets

Regional lawmakers back bill to end euthanization of unclaimed animals

Volunteers from the El Refugio animal protection association celebrate the Madrid regional assembly’s decision to study changing abandoned pet laws. Ampliar foto
Volunteers from the El Refugio animal protection association celebrate the Madrid regional assembly’s decision to study changing abandoned pet laws.

Mandatory euthanasia for abandoned pets that end up in pounds and shelters across Madrid may soon end now that regional lawmakers have decided to study changing the local animal protection law.

Last week, the Madrid regional parliament unanimously voted to back a proposal presented by the United Left (IU) grouping calling for, among other things, an end to the sacrificing of abandoned animals.

The initiative was begun by animal protection society El Refugio through a campaign to push for changes to the local pet laws.

Catalonia is the only Spanish region to prohibit the euthanization of abandoned animals

Catalonia is currently the only Spanish region to prohibit the euthanization of abandoned animals. There is no national legislation regarding this issue.

The draft bill in Madrid also calls for mandatory sterilization of all pets whose owners do not plan on breeding them and fines of up to €3,000 for people who abandon animals.

Lawmakers will debate the bill during the next parliamentary term, which will begin after May’s regional elections.

Under Madrid’s 1990 Animal Protection Law, all abandoned pets picked up off the streets by municipal pound workers can be sacrificed after 10 days if their owners do not claim them.

Around 130,000 abandoned dogs and cats in Madrid were euthanized in the six years leading up to 2012, according to El Refugio figures.

But the number of abandoned animals found on the streets dropped by 12 percent during the first nine months of last year (5,458 animals picked up) compared to the same period in 2013 (6,206).

“Pretty soon no one will be able to kill any abandoned animal under the law, and those who do it will be prosecuted, put on trial, and punished,” said El Refugio’s Nacho Paunero.

Around 130,000 abandoned dogs and cats were euthanized in Madrid in the six years before 2012

El Refugio collected more than 60,000 signatures during its “zero killings” campaign demanding for changes to protection laws. El Refugio and other animal rights associations only put down pets for medical reasons.

Similar laws outlining the 10-day period before a pet is put to sleep have been passed in every Spanish region except Catalonia, which abolished the regulation in 2003.