Trigueros del Valle, with a population of just 300, has become the first municipality in Spain to enshrine the rights of pets alongside those of human townsfolk.
Pedro J Pérez Espinosa, the socialist mayor of the town in the Castilla y León province of Valladolid, introduced the so-called Renedo Declaration to guarantee the rights of dogs and cats as citizens of the town.
"Dogs and cats have been living among us for over a thousand years," said the mayor after the measure was voted in during a plenary session on Monday. "And the mayor must represent not just the human residents but must also be here for the others."
Costeña and Rufus. Photo: Fiona Govan
The animal bill of rights was approved unanimously by the new town 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".
But 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,” And article 6b which states that “the abandonment of a non-human resident is a cruel and degrading act.”
In a move which will clearly prohibit any form of bullfighting in the town, the resolution bans "any action that causes the mutilation or death of a non-human resident".
Animal charities hailed the move and said they hoped it would be introduced across Spain. "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.