Enshrining the rights of pets

A bit of news you may have missed over the summer was the passage of a bill of rights for pets in the small town of Trigueros del Valle in northern Spain.

The bill of rights, called the Renedo Declaration, guarantees the rights of dogs and cats as citizens and frames up the principles of coexistence with humans in the following terms: “All residents are born equal and have the same right to existence.” “A resident, whether human or non-human, is entitled to respect.” “The abandonment of a non-human resident is a cruel and degrading act.”

For most animal lovers, the mere mention of Spain turns one’s thoughts directly to the barbaric spectacle of bullfighting or the infamous and cruel annual running of the bulls in Pamplona. Everyone I know always cheers for the bulls.

While this kind of stereotyping is unfair, I must confess to knowing very little about the circumstances of dogs and cats in that country. I was happily surprised to see such an enlightened measure pop up in Spain.

With implications for animals beyond dogs and cats, the Renedo Declaration also states: “No non-human resident should be exploited for the pleasure or recreation of man.” As to bullfighting, the resolution bans "any action that causes the mutilation or death of a non-human resident."

Reading this got me to thinking about where we would be in this country if killing homeless pets had never been an acceptable option as a means of pet population control in the first place.

Of course, this is entirely speculative because we are playing catch-up after more than a century of sanctioned killing. We must relate to the millions of animals dying in our nation’s shelters while simultaneously building the kind of community framework that is automatically no-kill by virtue of its values and public policy.

Speculating on a positive vision of our future is always worthwhile and this story from Spain leads to this reasonable question: If the easy and unimaginative solution of killing homeless pets had never been entertained, how would municipalities have allocated their resources to serve and protect non-human residents?

Let’s hear your thoughts.

Together, we can Save Them All.

No-Kill 2025