Spanish town votes to give cats and dogs same rights as humans
A Spanish town has voted to recognise dogs and cats as "non-human residents", awarding them equal rights to co-exist alongside their human neighbours.
The tiny hamlet of Trigueros del Valle has become the first municipality in Spain to guarantee the rights of dogs and cats as citizens of the town.
It may only have a population of 330 residents but the town's people unanimously voted in favour of the unusual act.
Pedro J Pérez Espinosa, the socialist mayor of the town in the León province of Valladolid, said the so-called Renedo Declaration was voted in during a plenary session on Monday.
“Dogs and cats have been living among us for over a thousand years," Mr Espinosa said.
"And the mayor must represent not just the human residents but must also be here for the others."
The animal bill of rights was approved unanimously by the town’s council.
It comprises 13 articles including statements such as "all residents are born equal and have the same right to existence" and "a resident, whether human or non-human, is entitled to respect".
It also outlines basic tenets against cruelty to animals such as article 9a which states: “No non-human resident should be exploited for the pleasure or recreation of man.”
Article 6b states: “The abandonment of a non-human resident is a cruel and degrading act.”
Animal charities throughout Spain have hailed the declaration, saying they hoped it could be introduced across the country.
"This is a great day for humans and non-human citizens alike," said a statement from animal rights NGO, Rescate 1.
"Today, we are closer as species and we are now more human thanks to the sensitivity and intelligence shown by the people of Trigueros del Valle," the charity said.
The town’s new chapter is not the first time a non-human has been afforded something similar to human rights however.
Campaigners in the US have been fighting for some time to get greater recognition for chimpanzees and in May, a court ruled that four chimps in a university research laboratory could not be treated as property and instead must be regarded as legal persons.
The landmark case is thought to be the first time any individual rights have been granted to anything other than humans.
Trigueros del Valle’s new “equal rights for all residents” effectively bans bullfighting and other blood sports from the town.
The tradition of fighting bulls has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years, with Catalonia becoming the first region in mainland Spain to vote in favour of banning bullfighting in 2010.
However, the Spanish Government is currently considering a new law that would declare the blood sport as a traditional part of Spain’s national heritage.
The move would give promoters certain tax breaks, and crucially allow them to ignore local government bans.