Photo taken from AEZA dog and cat adoption Facebook page, Aljezur

119 animals abandoned every day in Portugal

Economic crisis powers new wave of animal abandonment

People in Portugal are once again getting rid of domestic animals ‘en masse’. The percentage of cats and dogs taken in by refuges this year is up almost 39%, translating into 43,600 so far.

The figures have been taken from the latest report by the ICNF (institute for conservation of nature and forests).

Explains Jorge Cid, president of the general council of veterinarians (Ordem dos Veterinários): “People wanted animals during the pandemic because they felt alone. Now that lockdowns have passed and the cost of living is rising, they don’t have the conditions to continue looking after them, between (buying) food and taking care – so, they abandon them”.

The country has 170 official ‘collection centres’ for wandering/ stray animals, of which 37 have been built this year.

Lisbon’s animal Ombudsman Pedro Paiva tells Correio da Manhã that in spite of capacity to take in animals being increased “the truth is there really isn’t the space for so many abandoned dogs and cats”.

Jorge Cid’s belief is that penalising owners who dump their pets is not the answer. “We need to create a social assistant for animal owners”, he told the paper. “There are some going through serious problems. It is always terrible to abandon an animal, but without understanding the problems, we can never stop them”.

Pedro Paiva adds that it is frustrating how many animals have not been chipped – three years after the law came into place making chipping obligatory.

To give an idea how many people do not chip their pets, of the 2.6 million abandoned animals only a little more than 517,000 were found to have chips.

CM adds that the fine for animal owners who have not chipped their animals can reach €3,740. 

As to the areas where most animals appear to be abandoned, these include Cascais, Braga, Famalicão, Santo Tirso and Ponta Delgada (Azores), says the paper – although the problem is national. As this text went up online, so too did an appeal from a local rural Algarve dog shelter asking if anyone recognised two dogs dumped last night, with four puppies.