The new animal law puts 400 pet stores on the brink of closure

“Prohibited the commercialization of animals of company in stores, as well as its display and exhibition for commercial purposes”. This is specified in the nueva animal welfare law that has been approved in Congress and that entails a reform of the Penal Code to punish more animal abuse. A ban that has pet stores in suspense and that puts close to closing on the verge of 400 establishments who are engaged in this business in the Valencian Community, a part of them in the province of Alicante.

The new regulations that aim to stop the mistreatment of animals have caused controversy from day one. But, once part of the small print of what is included in it is known, it has also brought uncertainty to professionals in the sector, from those who have a business dedicated to the sale of animals or other related products to those who are dedicated to the health of these specimens, such as veterinarians, especially those specialized in the species included in the regulations and that cannot continue to be marketed .

But, which are the most important points of the new law? For starters, the commercialization of pets in storesas well as its exhibition and exposure to the public for commercial purposes will be prohibited. In addition, the transmission, for consideration or free of charge, of animals can only be carried out directly, either from the person responsible for the breeding, or from an animal protection entity, without intermediaries. The The transfer of animals between individuals must be, in any case, free of charge and be reflected in the contract.

One of the pet stores in Benidorm with animals on display. David Revenge

Therefore, the shop windows in which puppies can be seen in full view of the whole world or other species such as some birds or reptiles will go down in history. And one of the reasons to curb this practice is to prevent are purchased “on a whim” just because they attract the attention of consumers. And also to encourage the adoption of animals and try to end the high numbers of abandonment.

Uncertainty has settled in the sector: “We are still not clear how all this is going to be applied and we are waiting,” Raquel Castellano, manager of the Paraíso store located in Benidorm, explained to this newspaper. “We are not going to be able to sell anything,” she added to clarify that “In a few years it will also affect the food for the animals because the population will drop”. Because “if I don’t sell a parakeet, I’m not going to sell its food or anything else it needs like a cage,” she said. Therefore, the losses will be for the entire supply chain.

Because not only these types of stores will be affected by not being able to exhibit these animals, but the new law also establishes what are or are not domestic animals and the prohibition of the sale of some species as they are not considered native. Thus, it will be prohibited to have in homes mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas or rabbits; but also, within the birds, parakeets, parakeets, anapornis or originating from other countries. As for the reptiles, nothing of snakes, iguanas, chameleons, geckos or turtles; neither spiders. Many, after knowing this list, have set their sights on the rabbit or the hamsters that fill thousands of homes.

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A man watches birds in a store. David Revenge

What is the reason for not letting them be in the houses? According to the norm, rodents are prohibited to preserve the wild and native fauna of the natural environment and that could be invasive. A reason that extends to rabbit, one of the most beloved pets and which already accounted for more than a million and a half copies in Spain in 2020, although with environmental damage. And the turtles? According to the Ministry for Ecological Transition, they are animals that contain a significant number of pathogenic vectors, such as parasitic fungi, and therefore transmit diseases. In the case of the well-known birds that are found in many homes, the reason is that “they are wild species not naturally present in Spain.”

“With the new law, we will have to reduce employees all. And we will probably have to close”

Raquel Castellanos – Store manager in Benidorm

Many animals have been put in a very big bag“, indicated Castellano. The purpose of the law is not criticized by the sector: “They want to avoid abandonment so that the maximum number of animals is adopted, especially dogs that are the most found in shelters. And that there are no people who have them in conditions that are not adequate and that their lives can be trafficked”. But he considers that prohibiting is not the solution: “There should be a registry of any animal, as is done with dogs or even with the reptiles that bear his identification number.” Thus, from the sector they consider that “they should have looked for a middle ground” and “we don’t fully understand the law.”

The person in charge indicated that, in the establishment that she directs, “more than 50% of the income is from the sale of animals”something that they will lose and, therefore, they will have to reduce staff: “We will have to reduce all employees. And we probably have to closeThus, there are already studies of large chains of this type of business that indicate that the closures can affect the entire sector.

Mido Elsoghir is the owner of Laladros de Benidorm shop. He decided five years ago not to have animals for sale on display in his window. Although this point of the law does not affect him right now, he did indicate that “all the details have yet to be seen. Although keeping track of everything is always good.” With the new regulations in hand, the businessman pointed out that “I expected a little more.” Thus he indicated that “the important thing is not only that animals are not exposed to avoid buying on a whim, but also that there is more control in the sale outside the shops.” Because “it is individuals who make unfair competition to stores.” Among the examples, all the sale that can be found on the internet.

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“The important thing is not only that animals are not exposed, but that there is more control in the sale outside the shops”

Mido Elsaghir – Store owner in Benidorm

The sector has reacted yeis collecting signatures against the new animal law promoted by associations and a foundation. Under the slogan “#Exóticosperofamiliares” it is intended to stop the processing of the norm and that it does not reach the Senate or is not approved so that it enters into force in the established time. The campaign extends throughout the province and in various establishments, from stores to veterinary clinics. “We want it to be modified and be a fair law for everyone,” added Castellano.

The College of Veterinarians also disagreed with the law, arguing that it is based on “abstract concepts” and does not exactly mention the veterinarians, which they consider a contradiction. But the criticisms launched did not stop the processing and approval of the Animal Welfare Law in Congress with the votes of PSOE, either. United We Can, ERC and Bildu.

Rabbits are included in the list of animals that cannot be kept. David Revenge

Mireia Mainez is a veterinarian at the La Marina Exotic Center in Elche. Specialized in this type of animal, for her business the new law is disastrous: “We are dedicated exclusively to the health of exotic animals, so we are nervous and worried.” For now, he moves in uncertainty and waits to “see that everything comes out in detail.” He thus explained that “90% of our activity can be affected by this new law.” And that will translate into a workforce reduction: “We are now three veterinarians and two assistants. If they leave only a few species, I’ll fend for myself.”

In this specialized veterinary center “we live off a large number of birds that are left outside but also rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles or turtles, much-loved animals that are kept at home. The owners take great care of them.” Mainez lamented: “We are dedicated to everything that they are going to ban.”

“We dedicate ourselves to all the animals that the new law will prohibit”

Mireia Mainez – Veterinary in Elche

In addition to exotic animals, among the patients who go through his clinic the most are rabbits: “It is the second livelihood that we have and we do not know anything certain yet.” Thus he remembered that it is the third largest pet after dogs and cats, although the place is disputed with the ferret. “This one does stay,” he said. Something that has also created strangeness in some buyers. In the last 5 years in the province of Alicante, 273 specimens have been identified because their owners have voluntarily decided so but there is no real census. They are also used in therapies, for example, for the little ones, and also as emotional support.

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Puppies in a store in Benidorm. David Revenge

But it does not only affect the business for the animals that they attend “in situ” also for the tHealth advisory work they do for poultry farms nationwide: “It will be their turn to close for sure,” he said. He also added that the new law can lead to behaviors “that were seen in the past and that were not seen now because people were very aware.” “You have to regulate but not prohibit,” she concluded.

More adoptions in shelters

The law has among its objectives to increase the number of adoptions and put an end to abandonment. Thus, from protectors do applaud the part in which, when it comes to wanting a pet, the closest places where users can go will be to these shelters, among other options such as going directly to the hatcheries. “With it, the promotion of compulsive buying ends, although it will be possible to continue buying animals, but in another way,” Roberto Gallar, from the La Nucia Protectora, explained to this newspaper.

“The new law has good and bad things. Hunting dogs have been left out”

Roberto Gallar – Protector of La Nucia

Even so, the member of this entity indicated that the law “has good and bad things”. For example, “the hunting dogs have been left outside“, one of the claims that has been on the table for years from this type of shelters or animal associations. “You protect a group but leave an important part out. In just 15 days of February we have received a lot of hounds” at the protector. Regarding what affects the protectors, Gallar indicated that “it seems correct to us” because many already comply with everything established.

For him there is still a lot “disinformation about the new regulations” which is causing alarm and uncertainty. “There are those who think that they are going to go to their house to take away animals they already have and the law is not retroactive.” And he indicated that “there are groups that are in charge of promoting this misinformation.” Thus he recalled that “there are points in the law that have already been made in other countries” for years. For the protectors “you have to legislate to adapt to all the things” that are emerging in the sector.

With the norm already approved in Congress, now it remains to be seen how it will finally be applied and if it passes the Senate process. However, it has been announced that there will be 48 months to put it into practice. We will have to wait and see how it finally affects the sectors involved.

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