HSVMA Celebrates End to Bullfighting in Catalonia

July 28, 2010

HSVMA joins Humane Society International (HSI) and other international animal protection organizations in hailing the historic decision by the Catalan Parliament to ban bullfighting in the Spanish region of Catalonia. Prior to the July vote, HSVMA worked with HSI and PROU!, a Catalan animal protection platform, to provide a scientific analysis refuting claims made by a Spanish veterinarian that bulls do not feel pain during the fight and that pain can be bred out in a line of animals.

The HSVMA letter, signed by ten renowned veterinarians and animal welfare scientists and with extensive references, provides evidence supporting the ability of cattle to experience pain and suffering during bullfights. The letter also casts serious doubt on the claim made in a non-peer reviewed journal article that pain perception can be bred out of a line of animals, given that the vast majority of studies on pain in cattle would suggest otherwise.

"We remain unconvinced and instead believe that fighting bulls, like other bovines, feel pain and suffer in the bull ring," the HSVMA letter states. "Our opinion is based on the irrefutable science of anatomy, physiology and neurology governing pain receptions in the skin and muscle of the bovine."

Representatives of PROU! indicated that the HSVMA letter helped persuade some members of the Catalan Parliament to vote for the ban. The ban only applies to Catalonia, but is expected to have ramifications throughout Spain, as public opinion turns against this outdated and cruel tradition in which bulls are expected to fight until they become weakened from loss of blood or pain.

Commenting on the impact of the parliamentary vote, Joanna Swabe, HSI's European Union director, noted that it "has put the final nail in the coffin of bullfighting in Catalonia. Humane Society International hopes that other regions in Spain will soon follow suit and finally relegate the public torture of these magnificent animals to the annals of history."

The Catalan vote actually removed an exemption for bullfighting from existing Catalonian animal protection legislation. This means that bulls and horses, who have suffered enormously in the bullring, will finally be granted the same degree of protection as other agricultural animals in Catalonia.

More than 140,000 animal welfare supporters across the globe demonstrated their support for the campaign by signing a petition asking Catalan politicians to heed the wishes of their citizens and vote to end bullfighting in the region. The signatures, collected by HSI and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, were handed to the president prior to the vote.

Read more about HSI's efforts to end bullfighting in Europe.