TRIGUEROS DEL VALLE, Spain — Animal lovers in the small town of Trigueros del Valle have recently made the decision to recognize dogs and cats as ‘non-human residents.’ The town is the first in the world to give equal rights to animals.
The small Spanish town voted unanimously on the move, which is a landmark step for animal rights.
The town of 300 residents approved the declaration which seeks to dignify the lives of dogs and cats, giving them special protections. It recognizes that animals have shared the lives and been friends with humans for thousands of years.
The initiative of the vote is an attempt to protect the animals from cruelty and abuse, along with an acknowledgement of their importance in the town. The northern town, situated in an agricultural area, will also take responsibility for any abandoned dogs and cats, and will rebuke owners who mistreat their pets.
“We’re not saying you have to love cats and dogs, but you have to respect them,” said Mercedes Cano, an animal rights campaigner who was involved in the move.
Cano goes on to say that despite the overall respect that the animals have in town, they are still occasionally abused. Hopefully this vote will change that. After the results of the vote were in, the mayor made clear his responsibility to represent and respect the wishes of the townspeople, and its dog and cat compadres.
“Dogs and cats have been living among us for over a 1,000 years. The mayor must represent not just the human residents but must also be here for the others,” the mayor said.
The new animal rights act will also effectively rule out the staging of bullfighting in the Spanish town, which has come under heavy scrutiny in Spain in recent years.
In the United States, there are several groups working to make sure that animal rights are protected and recognized on the ballot. Just this year, Connecticut Votes For Animals defeated a proposal that would have imposed sales tax on veterinary services. Maryland Votes for Animals is another organization working to protect animal rights.