Who protects animals?

What should a citizen do if he sees an animal in danger? For some years now, the creation of specialized units for the protection of the environment and animals has begun. These are the security forces and institutions to call or go to in case of abuse or abandonment of animals.


7 September 2017


On February 14th, congress unanimously approved the amendment of the Civil Code so that all animals are considered living beings with feelings. This fact could open the door to the creation of a state law framework for the protection of animals.

While all this is taking place, there are existing laws in our country that we can make use of to protect animals, such as article 337 of the Penal Code, the animal protection laws of each autonomous community and city council regulations.

But who is in charge of enforcing these laws? Who should we call if we see a case of abandonment or animal abuse? Security forces have the function of enforcing the law, each according to their own specific role, so they are also responsible for enforcing animal protection laws.

There are two main bodies that are responsible for protecting animals and the environment: the Nature Protection Service (Guardia Civil) and the local police. The local police also have a role, in those communities that have them.

Protecting pets

The protection of pet animals is the responsibility of city councils, so it will be the local police in each municipality who have the job watching over this area.

 The importance of animal protection has been growing for a number of years, resulting in the creation of specialised units for protection of the environment and animals, with professionals who are trained to deal with any cases of animal mistreatment or abandonment

A key point is that the city councils are able to protect pet animals in the area through the local police, while Seprona of the Guardia Civil takes care of the whole country.

One of these units is Uproma, the Castell├│n police Environmental Protection and Animal Welfare Unit, which has been operating for four years. In 2017 they received a recognition from the Violence to Animals Observatory, at the first first national Police Services for the Protection of Animals awards.

Other examples are the Alicante Animal Protection Unit (Uproa), Segorbe Animal Welfare, Torrent and Burjassot, the Valencia Green Unit and the Callosa de Segura Rural Environment Unit (Urma). These municipalities rely on their local police and their animal welfare units.  

And in rural areas?

Seprona is responsible for acting at the national level in matters relating to the protection of the environment and of all types of animals, not only those that are pets.

But sometimes things are not so clear. What if you see an animal roaming around in the mountains and don't know which municipality it belongs to? What if you don't know if it is a native, exotic or possibly dangerous animal? And what if you find a wounded bird? If in doubt, we advise calling 112 and they will send out the appropriate security force.

Police helpers

But the local police and Seprona are not alone. In addition to growing public awareness, they also have the help of other agencies and people in the defence of animals. That's also the case with lawyers. In Spain, there are already many official schools of law who have created an Animal Law Section, with specialist lawyers who colaborate in animal protection.

In fact, with cases of animal abuse, it is the protection workers that must make the complaint and work with a lawyer specialising in animal law so that no case of abuse or neglect goes unpunished. There are also other agencies, such as the Police Animal Rights Association (APDA) who can advise and inform, the Parliamentary Association for the Defence of Animals (APPDA) and the Justice and Animal Defence Observatory.

More info
Contact numbers
Local police