Animal Citizens Have Human Rights

A world first, this Spanish community recognizes animal rights for all dogs and cats
A world first, this Spanish community recognizes animal rights for all dogs and cats

It’s 2015, and a tiny Spanish community recognizes animal rights by enacting a Bill of Rights for pets. It’s a story about Trigueros del Valle, located in the northwestern part of the country, that has a population of only 300 people. However, despite its size, it makes history. That’s because this town is destined to become the first municipality in the world to give its “animal citizens” the same basic rights as its human counterparts.

Animal Rights Defined

The document in question is very significant. It includes statements like “all residents are born equal and have the same right to existence.” It also states, ”no non-human resident shall be exploited for the pleasure or recreation of man.” In this context the words “non-human residents” are defined as dogs and cats…at least for now. Nevertheless, that could expand and apply to other animals as well in the future.

Mayor Declares Animal Citizens Have Human Rights

At the time the Bill was passed, Mayor Pedro J. Pérez Espinosa commented, “Dogs and cats have been living among us for over a thousand years.” He added that his responsibility was to dignify the lives of dogs and cats and represent not just the human residents but also be there for the others. In essence, what the town’s lawmakers did was declare to the whole of Spain and the entire world that animal citizens have human rights. 

Centuries Ago This Happened

Giving a voice to the less powerful and less fortunate members of society is nothing new. Signed in England in 1215, the Magna Carta promised fair laws, gave everyone, even the poorest, access to the courts, and held the monarchy accountable for its actions.

Then, a few centuries on, we have the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Enacted in 1791, it granted freedom of religion, speech and the press. It also gave protection from unreasonable search and seizure of property. And, in addition, established rights of the accused in criminal cases, and forbad excessive bails and fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments.

Humans Have Obligations

In many countries, when children are at risk, there are laws in place to help protect them. The reason being they have no voice and cannot defend themselves. Sadly, though, when it comes to protecting companion animals, it’s an entirely different matter. In so many parts of the world, even where laws do exist, they are often poorly enforced. And, also bear in mind the fact that when penalties are handed down by the courts, they are frequently far too lenient.

It really is time for communities large and small, across the globe, to step up and do the right thing. And, in this context, the right thing is to make sure that all animal citizens have human rights. They, too, are sentient beings and deserve their own Bill of Rights.

In Trigueros del Valle, animal citizens have human rights and Spaniards declare this town their Animal Capital
In Trigueros del Valle, animal citizens have human rights and Spaniards declare this town their Animal Capital

Domesticated Animals Deserve No Less

Just like the world’s first Bill of Rights for the dogs and cats that cohabit with the citizens of Trigueros del Valle, companion animals deserve no less than the following.

  • Basic right to exist
  • Right to a life of dignity and compassion
  • Given food, shelter and medical attention
  • Allowed to be the creature that nature intended
  • Recognized as a sentient being that has needs, feelings, emotions and intelligence, each with a unique personalty.

To Sum Up

It is my hope that other communities will replicate this historic achievement. All companion animals deserve dignity, protection and compassion. After all, it is their God given right.

To continue reading, we’d like to share an animated short film about human compassion for animals that had never known kindness

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!

 Equal justice under the law should not only apply to the human race. Those principles also need to be used to protect the sentient beings who happen to be our companion animals. The following examples highlight what is wrong in our society and what can be done about it.

Please take the time to read about Rocky and what he and his human family had to endure.

Then we have the poignant stories of Buckles and Reese and the courage it took to fight for change.