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New law in Spain classifies animals as ‘sentient beings’
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
dog sitting in front of book

New law in Spain classifies animals as ‘sentient beings’

At some point, every pet owner has wondered what their animals were thinking. If you’ve ever stared into a dog or cat’s eyes, you’ve certainly seen a spectrum of emotions and thoughts reflected back to you: love, anger, trust, curiosity, playfulness and so on. Skeptics say attached animal owners are simply projecting human traits onto creatures that still exist purely on a primal level, free of the consciousness that supposedly makes human beings unique.

But a new law in Spain challenges that assumption with real weight behind it, labeling all animals, including wild ones, as sentient beings.

According to El Pais: “From now on, animals will be treated as “sentient beings,” and as such will have a different legal standing than an inanimate object. They will no longer be able to be seized, abandoned, mistreated or separated from one of their owners in the case of a divorce or separation, without having their wellbeing and protection taken into account.”



Support for the law gained momentum last month after a divorcing couple in Spain were granted joint custody of their border collie Panda after each argued in court for sole custody of the dog. The judge in the case described both owners as “reasonable” people who had cared for the dog and therefore the dog should not suffer from being separated from one of its owners in their divorce.

“What is novel is to be able to use the convention to avoid having to define the pet as a shared thing or property and instead to focus on the animal’s welfare, the emotional bond and the shared responsibility of taking care of an animal, beyond the pet being considered a property,” Lola García, a lawyer specializing in animal welfare and who represented the plaintiff in the case, told the Washington Post.

In an approach remarkably similar to child custody arguments, García cited evidence such as shared vet bills, adoption contracts and even photos the couple took with Panda, according to the Post. “There’s an emotional bond that the justice system needs to recognize,” she told the paper.

One of Spain’s congressional members who supported the bill called it a “moral victory” citing an estimated 200,000 pets that are abandoned in Spain each year.

Photo by Andrew S on Unsplash

Several European countries have similar animal sentient laws and similar regulations are seen as part of a larger trend sweeping the globe. In the United States, several federal bills have been passed that seek to eliminate animal cruelty. However, according to the Animal Protection Index, no laws or legislation currently exist seeking to expand similar protections to all animals.

That could change sooner than later with a growing awareness and changing of general attitudes about animal rights around the world.

In Spain, the bill had broad bipartisan support, with only the country’s smaller right-wing party objecting.

“We are the only species that recognizes the suffering of others and as such we have an obligation to prevent that suffering,” said Guillermo Díaz, from the country’s center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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