23/07/2015 4:37 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Spanish Town Becomes First To Give Pets Equal Rights As Citizens

Two dogs wait to be blessed by a priest at San Anton church in Madrid marking San Anton Abad's Day (Saint Anthony), on January 17, 2015. Dogs, cats, rabbits and even turtles, many dressed in their finest, trooped into churches across Spain in search of blessing on the patron saint of animals Saint Anthony's Day. AFP PHOTO/ PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON—A Spanish town, with population of just 300 people, has become the first to recognise dogs and cats as "non-human residents" awarding them equal rights to co-exist alongside their human counterparts.

The town council in Trigueros del Valle, with a population of just 300, has become the first municipality in Spain to enshrine the rights of pets alongside those of human townsfolk.

The council voted unanimously to define dogs and cats as "non-human residents", giving them rights similar to men and women, according to The Local.

Pedro J Perez Espinosa, the socialist mayor of the town introduced the so-called Renedo Declaration to guarantee the rights of dogs and cats as citizens of the town.

"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," said Espinosa.

It comprises 13 articles including statements such as "all residents are born equal and have the same right to existence" and "a resident, whether human or non-human, is entitled to respect", it reported.

But it also outlines basic tenets against cruelty to animals such as article 9a which states "No non-human resident should be exploited for the pleasure or recreation of man."

Animal charities hailed the move and said they hoped it would be introduced across Spain. "This is a great day for humans and non-human citizens alike," said a statement from animal rights NGO, Rescate 1.

"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," the charity said.

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