The pioneer in declaring a dog as a being endowed with sensitivity has been the Head Judge of the Court of First Instance nº 11. She has done so by applying for the first time the reform of the Civil Code that came into force on January 5, 2022, specifically Article 333 bis 1., 2., 3., and 4., which establishes that they are “living beings endowed with sensitivity” and “feeling”.
It all started four years ago, when the owner of the dog asked a friend to take care of him for a while because she was moving to live abroad, being that at that time the dog was one year old.
At the beginning, the owner of the animal sent money to the caregiver so that she could take care of his expenses, but after a short time she stopped doing it and it was the caregiver who was assuming all the expenses and taking care of the dog’s needs.
Years later, the owner of the animal returned to Spain and wanted the dog back. Faced with the caretaker’s refusal, he initiated criminal proceedings against her to get the dog back.
The Court of Instruction No. 1 of Oviedo acquitted the caretaker of the crimes that the owner wanted to accuse her of; as the criminal jurisdiction did not agree with him, the owner started civil proceedings to claim “the thing that is his”, since at that time the animals were equated to objects. And although in the first instance the Civil Court ruled in favor of the owner, the dog’s keeper appealed this decision before the Court of Appeals.
In parallel and having a decision in his favor in the first instance, the owner exercised his right to execute the resolution that was favorable to him. In this executive proceeding, the keeper opposed the execution and this time the Court decided in her favor after applying the new regulations of January 2022.
The Order issued by the Court emphasizes that it decided to provisionally prevent the dog from being separated from its caregiver by adopting as a higher criterion “the welfare of the animal”, stating that, “until the final decision on the ownership of the animal by means of a final judgment is made, the welfare of the animal advises not to establish changes in its current situation; changes that may not be definitive and that could generate unnecessary suffering to the animal that would be separated abruptly from the person who has been its caregiver, at least, for the last three years”.
The Judge recognizes in the Order that it is not the delivery “of a thing, but of an animal” which, according to the new article 333 bis of the Civil Code, is “a living being, endowed with sensitivity, so that all decisions affecting an animal must ensure its welfare in accordance with the characteristics of each species”.