Leaving Pets During Confinement Can Have Legal Consequences

Living in confinement due to the Coronavirus epidemic has caused thousands of pets to be abandoned by their owners. This has caused animal shelters and associations to be overwhelmed, without having any option of reincorporating them into other families, since no one can leave the house, and therefore, families cannot approach any shelter. But this fact can have major problems for all those people who decide to abandon their pet.

With more than 19,000 people killed by COVID-19 and more than 100,000 people infected, many pets have been left alone, either because their owner has been in the hospital, or because the virus has been lethal.

Permissions for the protectors

From the animal protectors they are working so that the State allows them to move, either to capture stray cats and sterilize them, to rescue or feed animals that are on the street, or to be received by new adopters.

In both Italy and Belgium, animal care activities and shelters have been considered essential. In Spain, the Chief Prosecutor for the Environment, Mr. Antonio Vercher, has already announced his fear regarding the massive abandonment of dogs and even of the adoptions that are taking place as an excuse to go for a walk, so after this stage of confinement, the prosecutor predicts that the abandonment figure could be even more numerous.

Illegal dog leasing businesses have also appeared in order to evade the confinement decreed since March 14. This conduct, which aims to defraud the current legal system, from Royal Decree 463/2020, constitutes a fraud of law regulated in article 6 of our Civil Code, which imposes, in the event of its commission, the application of the rule that would have tried to circumvent.

“The truth is that the aforementioned conduct is not punishable in our Penal Code and its only consequence is to proceed with the return of the illegally rented pet and the price paid for it,” explains the lawyer.

Regarding the abandonment of pets

More and more pets have been abandoned since the health crisis in Spain began. This fact carries very light penalties, which further encourages them to be carried out. In fact, there is a debate in penal doctrine about the general preventive efficacy that a sentence can have to be intimidating and contribute to the decrease in the performance of this type of behavior in society, having already argued by some judges, in cases of great media relevance, that the application of the harshest penalty acts as an exemplary element for society.

This example does not seem to have yet reached the protection of animals for the defense of their rights, also included in the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights of the United Nations.

Thus, it must be taken into account that, legally, pets constitute an extension of the rights and obligations as individuals.

According to article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights, “every animal chosen by man as a companion has the right that the duration of his life be in accordance with his natural longevity, considering the abandonment of an animal as a cruel and degrading act ”.

As can be seen, the Spanish criminal response to the infringement of article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights is not exemplary, “so it cannot surprise us that abandonment has increased in these circumstances. In short, we must demand a greater hardening of penalties when it comes to the violation of the rights of our pets, as well as that the care of animals is declared as an essential service, calling responsibility to all and that there is greater solidarity. and sensitivity towards abandonment ”, he concludes.