Dogs can now be considered for “joint custody” rather than as “shared property” in landmark animal rights law in Spain.

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Man’s best amigo has become parte de la familia! Just five days into the new 2022 year, Spain has passed a law labeling pets as “sentient beings” instead of “objects.” In most countries, formerly including Spain, pets are legally considered “personal belongings” in divorce and separations making ownership arrangements not only difficult for the human parents, but for their furry “kids” as well.

How do you say goodbye to your best friend in the world?

But under Spain’s new law, which has been in the works for over four years, a dog’s welfare is considered within a legal separation rather than strict ownership. Arrangements for the beloved family dog can now more easily include shared custody which is pretty much the difference between deciding arrangements for children versus dividing up the Beanie Baby collection.

“Animals are part of the family,” explained lawyer Lola Garcia who specializes in animal rights, “and when a family decides to separate, the fate of the animal must be regulated with the same importance as the fate of other family members.”

Human owners would agree that dogs are more than capable of feelings and emotions. They have favorite toys, they tell us when they’re happy or frustrated with a tongue-lolling smile or a furrow of the brow. Even unwanted behavior is linked to emotion with fear sometimes giving way to an unhappy bark. Particulars and traits that could easily be applied to a small child and easily considered “human”.

Which is why, under Spain’s new law, which follows similar moves in France and Portugal, dogs are no longer grouped with other shared “property” in separation proceedings.

Dogs in Spain are no longer considered “property” meaning no one is forced to say goodbye.

But this move is positive in more ways than rhetoric and easing the often times emotionally difficult transition of custody within a break-up. By considering dogs, and shared pets as a whole, as sentient beings, the law changed Spain’s Civil Code, Mortgage Law, and Civil Procedural Act in positive ways. Now, in seeking joint-custody of the family dog, financial solvency and generally the dog’s best interests have to be considered.

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“This will help in the reduction of animals being abandoned or badly treated,” said Rodrigo Costavilas, a psychologist in praise of the new law.

So far in the US a similar law as not been enacted through custody arrangements, in the case where there’s a shared dog in the family, have been growing more and more popular. The best thing to do, should the situation unfortunately arise, is to remember dog loves you too and to make the best decision for that love. Remember the best choice for the furry family member is the choice that keeps them happy and healthy, even when things are a bit ruff.

Buen Perro! (Good Dog!)

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