Madrid seeks ban on displaying live pets in store windows

A puppy in a pet shop display window

A puppy in a pet shop display window

A bill up for debate next month proposes acquiring animals through catalogues or the internet

The Madrid regional assembly will soon debate an animal protection bill that seeks to ban the display of live animals inside pet shops, among other initiatives.

If passed, stores will no longer be allowed to showcase kittens and puppies in their windows as a way to lure in customers.

This particular amendment to the larger bill, due to be debated on July 14, was introduced by Ciudadanos with support from Podemos and the Socialist Party (PSOE) and opposition from the Popular Party (PP).

Another controversial item in the animal protection bill is the ban on live pigeon shooting

Ciudadanos says that prospective customers should purchase their pets through catalogues, on the internet or through other means that do not involve displaying live animals at pet shops.

But the bill does not specify which animal species the ban would affect. Ciudadanos claims it encompasses all animals likely to be sold as pets, even birds, hamsters and fish. But the Socialist assembly member Rafael Gómez said it should be limited to dogs, cats and ferrets, “which are the animals that the law alludes to, and that’s why we supported this amendment.”

Alejandro Sánchez of Podemos shares the Socialists’ view, although he also adds that the way the bill stands now, “it means a complete ban.”

The PP, meanwhile, considers that the measure will hurt the sector, which is mostly made up of small and medium businesses. “There can be other options, and animals can be abandoned no matter where you buy them,” said Elena González, a PP assembly member.

But Ciudadanos representative Enrique Veloso said that the point is to try to avoid impulsive purchases by customers influenced by the “cute” factor. In 2014, over 140,000 dogs and cats were abandoned in Spain, according to a study by the Affinity Foundation. Spanish shelters take in an animal every five minutes.

Veloso does not see why pet shops should be ruined by the move “because they will keep selling through indirect means.”

Buyers will also receive a certificate guaranteeing that the purchase was legal and that the animal was bred at licensed centers throughout the region.

Another controversial item in the animal protection bill is the ban on live pigeon shooting. The ban is supported by Ciudadanos, Podemos and the PSOE, but opposed by the PP, which feels things should stay the way they are. Right now, the regional government can issue licenses to three shooting clubs in Madrid. “We’re talking about entrepreneurs and SMEs being hurt by this,” said a PP source.

The bill also prohibits using wild animals in circus acts and establishes that abandoned animals may no longer be put down at municipal shelters.

Published ElPais 5 July 2016

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