The de-objectification of animals is already a reality. The Civil Code considers them to be sentient beings ("living beings endowed with sentience")

La descosificación de los animales ya es una realidad. El Código civil los considera seres sintientes (“seres vivos dotados de sensibilidad”)
  • The bill amending the Civil Code on the legal status of animals and considering them as sentient beings has been approved.
  • The ICALP thus achieves one of its main challenges, being a fundamental pillar in this reform and spearheading the leadership in favour of animals after more than a decade of research and work.
  • A major step towards bringing Spain into line with the European Union, which already promoted this amendment through art. 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon (TFEU) in 2009.


2nd. December 2021

Great news for animals and all those of us who have been fighting for years for significant progress in the legal field towards them. Today, the Congress has approved the Proposed Law amending the Civil Code in which animals leave behind their status of "things" to be considered "beings endowed with sentience". This reform, to which many civil associations have committed themselves, including the work of the Affinity Foundation, has been promoted in the academic sphere by the ICALP for more than 15 years, making it one of its founding objectives that has finally become a reality today.

Following in the footsteps of countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland, we are on a level with the European standard, which in 2009 already considered animals as "sentient beings" in art. 13 of the Lisbon Treaty. This clears the way for further reforms. The modification of the Civil Code approved today also affects the Mortgage Law and the Civil Procedure Law so that, among other aspects, animals cannot be seizable objects and can be covered by the regime of shared custody in the event of a marital crisis.

ICALP leads the change after years of research and work

This pioneering vision, especially in the legal field, was already a major commitment of Dr. Marita Giménez-Candela and the entire team of researchers at the ICALP, and has been reflected over the years through work, research, projects and courses, including the Animal Law Database (, the Masters in Animal Law, the only one of its kind in Europe, and the journal dA Derecho Animal (Forum of Animal Law Studies). Many of these were compiled months ago in the ICALP Dossier on the legal status of animals in Spain and other countries (

Going a step further in relation to this reform, the ICALP Research Centre has extended the international vision of the legal consideration of animals to analyse the situation of other species, such as production animals, fish in the EU and in Spain, or bees in relation to the pandemic situation of Covid-19.

A change that Spanish society has been calling for years

In the social sphere, this modification, which recognizes animals as what they have always been and what science has affirmed, adapts to what society has been demanding for years: a vision of empathy and respect for all these species that have been living with us for centuries.

Above all, bearing in mind that 47% of households in our country are home to non-human animals, 11 million of which are dogs and cats. As they are finally considered "sentient beings", they can no longer be seized and the courts will be able to establish a regime of shared custody in cases of divorce.

Future developments and ICALP proposals

Although from a legal and multidisciplinary perspective we consider that there is still a long way to go, this reform is a fundamental starting point for progress in terms of rights for all species. The ICALP has led this change with the utmost professional, legal and scientific rigour, with the aim of achieving further achievements in the near future.


For more information and to request an interview:
Marga Barrera, 935811167

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