Spain’s Civil Guard carried out more than 12,000 operations against animal abuse over the course of 2016, resulting in some 490 people being arrested or investigated, the force said in an annual summary. It said that it received 11,729 complaints relating to animal welfare, accommodation, hygiene, transportation and irregularities to do with health and other documentation that were mainly related to dogs, but also included cats, horses, cockerels and reptiles, as well as cows and sheep.
Under Spanish law, mistreating or abandoning domestic animals is now punishable by an 18-month prison sentence for first offenses (sentences of less than two years rarely involve spending time behind bars) and prison terms of six months for a second offense.
The 2016 edition of Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare Eurobarometer report points out that 94% of Spaniards consider it “very important” or “important” to ensure the welfare of farm animals, and 71% would like more information about the way they are treated.
A prize Spanish fighting cock can fetch prices of up to €100,000
By comparison, these figures were 71% and 61% in 2006. The report also showcases that 86% of Spaniards want greater protection for pets, even though the Penal Code has already introduced tougher punishment for animal abuse in recent years.
As part of the penal code reforms, the Popular Party (PP) government in 2015 approved stronger penalties for violations of animal protection laws.
The Civil Guard report for 2016 highlighted an operation into cockfighting in the northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias, seizing 217 animals. A prize Spanish fighting cock can fetch prices of up to €100,000, says the Civil Guard.
In the southwestern province of Huelva, the Civil Guard arrested 32 people, among them veterinarians, for cropping the ears and tails of hunting dogs.
Meanwhile, in Zaragoza, in the northeast of the country, the force rescued 82 dogs that had been illegally imported from Eastern Europe. They also found 46 dead puppies. Five people were arrested for mistreatment, forging documents and fraud.
In Guadalajara, in central Spain, the authorities detained somebody for stabbing a domestic cow to death.
English version by Nick Lyne.