Just how much do the Spanish really love their pets?

A new survey reveals the true extent of affection Spaniards have for their pets with a majority claiming they prefer animals to humans.

Just how much do the Spanish really love their pets?
Photo: pytr021/Depositphotos

Statistics show that Spain is in the grip of a trend towards owning a pet rather than having a child with more pets officially recorded in Spain than children under the age of 15.

But now we know just how much animals mean to their owners.

A study carried out by Amazon revealed that 52 percent of Spaniards admitted that they preferred their pets to humans and a whopping 86 percent believed their pets improved their mental health.

Around 67 percent of owners refer to their pets as their ‘baby’ or ‘child’.

And just like one does with a child, 62 percent said they celebrated their pet’s birthday each year, with 16 percent producing a special pet friendly birthday cake and 18 percent throwing a birthday party inviting other pet friends.

Around a third of pet owners have actually paid for a professional photo session for their furry loved ones and around a quarter send birthday cards or gifts from their pets to their friends and family.

Some people (21 percent) spend more money on their pets grooming than on their own and around one in five pet owners have opened a social media account in their animal’s name.

Anyone who has a pet knows how devastating it can be when they die which is why 60 percent believe that employers should grant leave to deal with the grief after a pet has passed away and 29 percent think that there should be parental leave offered if their dog has puppies.

But what the latest survey doesn’t reveal is the darker side of pet ownership.

Last year alone, 104.688 dogs and 33.719 cats were taken in by animal shelters across Spain.


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Spain’s new pet ID in 2022: What you need to know 

As of 2022, Spanish cats and dogs will likely need an official national ID - dubbed "el DNI Animal" - as part of a series of new pet laws aimed at bolstering animal rights in the country.

Although it is yet to be confirmed whether this document will contain a photo of the animal, it will include other details such as name, date of birth and ownership history. Photo: Jonathan Daniels/Unsplash
Although it is yet to be confirmed whether this document will contain a photo of the animal, it will include other details such as name, date of birth and ownership history. Photo: Jonathan Daniels/Unsplash

Why does Spain want to introduce a national pet ID?

Spain’s General Directorate of Animal Rights aims to build a national database of pets in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 Ione Belarra, the identification of domestic animals will serve “to guarantee that we are on the right path and have a model where no animal is left to its own devices in Spain”.

The pet ID will contain basic information relating to the animal, such as its date of birth, the number of vaccines it has had or any mistreatment carried out by its owners.

Although not officially confirmed, the new ID document will likely include a photo of the pet. 

The pet ID will reportedly make it easier to locate the owner of the animal in cases of abandonment.

In addition, the document will be compatible with the microchip that cats and dogs must have implanted at the vet when pet owners buy or adopt them.

What other documents do pet owners already need to have in Spain?

In order to legally own a pet in Spain, you need to have a health booklet (cartilla sanitaria) which includes its medical and vaccination records which has to be issued by a chartered veterinarian. This document also contains information about the pet and its owner. 

The microchip implanted under animals’ skin is also compulsory for cats and dogs in Spain, and it is currently considered the main means of identification for pets in the country.

Proof that your animal has had the rabies vaccine is also essential.

For travel purposes, your pet will need to have a pet passport, compulsory for travel within the EU since 2015. 

Veterinarian clinics are responsible for ordering these documents which contain much the same information as the upcoming DNI Animal – name, species, gender, breed, date of birth, microchip number, health record – but pet passports are only a requirement if you’re going to travel with them.

How else is Spain trying to protect its pets?

The DNI Animal is part of the draft bill for the Protection and Rights of Animals that Pedro Sánchez’s administration presented on October 6th, which also includes other measures that bolster animal rights in Spain.

One would hope that when it comes to protecting the country’s animals, there would be no major differences of opinion between Spain’s political factions. 

The draft bill is set to be discussed by Spain’s Council of Ministers in November before being debated in the Spanish Parliament, so it could be that the introduction of this animal ID will be pushed back until late 2022. 

Other measures in the draft bill include the requirement for people to do a training course before being allowed to adopt a pet, which teaches budding pet owners how to handle and care for their furry ones. 

Only fish will be sold in pet stores if the new law passes, no more puppies and kittens in the window as this is deemed to incite “compulsive buying”. Instead, dogs and cats will have to be purchased from professional breeders or adopted at rescue shelters.

There will also be a limit of five pets per household, although this won’t be applied retroactively.

The Spanish government will also consider pets to be “living beings with feelings” and not objects in custody battles.