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Spanish Town Votes to Give Dogs and Cats Human Rights

Companion animals are now considered "non-human residents" with rights under the law.

Last week the Spanish town of Trigueros del Valle in the Castile and León region voted unanimously to define dogs and cats as “non-human residents” and awarded them rights similar to those afforded to men and women. Pedro Pérez Espinosa, mayor of the 330-person municipality, stated that “dogs and cats have been living among us for over a 1,000 years, and the mayor must represent not just the human residents but must also be here for the others.” The law also bans “any action that causes the mutilation or death of a non-human resident.” This passing places Trigueros del Valle in the same category as Catalonia and other towns, cities, and regions in Spain that have outlawed bullfighting. The victory, coupled with April’s verdict that two chimpanzees in a New York biomedical research facility won status as “legal persons” rather than property, signals a step toward global animal-rights progress. Rescate 1, an emergency-rescue group that campaigns for safety for humans as well as non-human animals, said, “Today, we are closer as species and we are now more human thanks to the sensitivity and intelligence shown by the people of Trigueros del Valle. This is a great day for humans and non-human citizens alike.”

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