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New Spanish law strengthens animal rights but exempts bullfights

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A new animal welfare law in Spain outlaws the use of animals for recreational activities that cause them pain and suffering but allows bullfights and hunting with dogs

MADRID -- A new animal welfare law that took effect Friday in Spain outlaws the use of Animals for recreational activities that cause them pain and suffering but allows bullfights and hunting with dogs.

Spain’s first specific animal rights legislation is intended to crack down on abuses. The law particularly targets the mistreatment of domestic animals, introducing fines of up to 200,000 euros ($212,000).

It bans the buying of pets in stores or online, but gives stores a grace period to find homes for their animals. In the future, it only will be legal to purchase pets from registered breeders. The new rules allow pets into most establishments, including restaurants and bars.

The law bans the use of wild animals at circuses and gives owners six months to comply. It allows zoos to keep using the marine mammals in their dolphin shows until the animals die.

Bullfights are regarded as part of Spain's cultural heritage. A proposal to include hunting dogs in the law prompted an outcry in some rural communities, and the government backed down.

Government statistics estimate some 29 million Animals are kept as Pets in Spain, most of them dogs. But around 300,000 are abandoned each year, and about one-third of those are put down.

The law also aims to introduce mandatory pet insurance and registration as well as training for owners. However, those requirements and some other legal aspects were delayed because detailed administrative procedures have not been drawn up in the absence of a sitting government.

Spain's July general election proved inconclusive, and political parties are in coalition-building talks.

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