“It’s a disaster” said one local pet store owner, as an uncertain future now lies ahead for many pet shops in the province. The reason, the new Law for the Protection and Rights of Animals that the Government is planning to introduce, that will both prohibit the sale of some animals, and their possession in homes.

Although the list of animals to be prohibited from sale is still provisional it is understood that birds such as parrots, lovebirds, nymphs or blackbirds may not be sold, neither can small rodents including guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice or rabbits, nor turtles and, of course, no exotic reptiles like spiders or similar invertebrates.

Dogs and cats will still be able to be purchased, but they may only be done so through registered breeders.

In the province there are approximately 95 establishments dedicated to this sector, shops and veterinary services, according to the latest estimated data from Facpyme, who all point out that “if the law goes ahead it will be a disaster” since “if the animals cannot be sold, then neither will food, cages or many other associated products.”

Soledad de la Hoz, the boss of one such establishment, said that this will also mean “the closure of many small businesses”. “The big stores stopped selling animals a long time ago and they are now focused on other things, but many smaller establishments rely on the sale of small pets, cages and so forth.”

Alicia Martín, owner of the Deconatura pet store, said that sales this Christmas have already seen a significant loss because many customers “were aware that the law was to be introduced.” “Every day the phone has been ringing with people asking if they can still have rabbits or hamsters,” she says.

“Last Christmas, instead of selling 20 rabbits I sold 5 or 6 “, Alicia points out. “This does not only affect the animal, if I sell 20 rabbits I have 20 new customers, who also come here to buy feed and accessories. Now I have 15 fewer customers and many stores will almost certainly have to close because we cannot live by selling feed alone.”