In the U.S., we have a cat running for president. And now in Spain, cats and dogs in one northern town have similar rights to humans.
Trigueros del Valle (population: 330) began defining felines and canines as “non-human residents,” following a recent unanimous vote by the town council. The mayor said it is time to recognize the animals that have been companions to humans for thousands of years.
The declaration prohibits “any action that causes the mutilation or death of a non-human resident.” People who mistreat pets will face legal repercussions. It also means the local government will be responsible for abandoned or stray cats or dogs.
Experts say the new law is just as much about preventing bullfighting as it is about stopping cruelty to domestic animals. The “sport” of bullfighting, or baiting and (oftentimes) killing a bull as public entertainment, is legal in most of the rest of Spain.
Larger cities like Catalonia and Barcelona have banned bullfighting altogether but smaller municipalities, such as the nearby town Tordesillas, continue to host annual runs where residents chase a bull through the streets, gradually stabbing it to death.
Mercedes Cano, an animal welfare activist who worked behind the scenes to get the vote passed, called the move a “very important, historic declaration” on par with enshrining children’s rights.