Pets - Treatment of animals

Cultural attitudes towards animals in southern Spain

Spain is well known for its bullfights, which inspire both admiration and disgust from visitors.

Less well-publicised abroad are the general conditions in which pets and domesticated animals are kept in this country.

Foreign observers should be aware that treatment varies considerably depending on whether the animal is considered a pet or a farm animal. To begin with, attitudes towards animals differ across this country. Unfortunately, Andalucia stands out for standards of animal treatment and care that are often considered inappropriate by both foreigners and Spaniards from other parts of Spain.

Traditionally, animals in rural Andalucia have not had high standing. Even today - especially in the countryside - it is not uncommon to find dogs tied up in the sun for many hours, or even days, waiting for their owners to stop by with food and water, as the country home they are guarding is only used on weekends. Rather than provide fenced pasturelands for horses and donkeys, these animals are kept on public pastureland, buy they are tethered, or even cobbled (front legs tied together) with rope or metal chain. The animals then allowed to roam insofar as this is possible, with some merely hopping from one patch of grass to another because their feet are tied so tightly together. Unwanted hunting dogs are often cruelly put to death.

You can be sure that animal rights activists in Spain are busy campaigning across the country, with many focusing special attention on the south. Much of their pressure centres on legislative changes that will make it difficult for owners to acquire and abandon dogs and other pets at whim. They also press for justice in cases of especially atrocious violence and cruelty involving animals.

It would not be right, however, to focus only on mistreatment of animals, since there are many responsible and loving pet owners in Andalucia and throughout this country.

Living in Andalucia