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Almost 10,000 cases of abandoning/ mistreating pets in last five years

But only 17 arrests as prosecutors accept law is unconstitutional

Police have detained 17 people for abandoning and/ or mistreating companion animals and recorded almost 10,000 crimes in the last five years, reveals data sent to Lusa by the authorities.

The 17 arrests were made, between 2018 and 2022: 15 referred to the mistreatment of pets, two to their abandonment.

The year with the most arrests was 2021, when six occurred, followed by 2019 and 2022, with four each, and in 2018 one person was arrested.

PSP data indicates that arrests for abandoning animals were made in 2019 and 2020, with one in each year.

But between 2018 and 2022, the combined forces of the PSP and the GNR recorded 9,732 crimes for abandoning and/ or mistreating pet animals.

The PSP reports that in the five years, it recorded 1,615 crimes for abandonment and 2,278 for situations of ill-treatment: a total of 4,402.

The GNR recorded 5,330 crimes: 3,385 of which constituted animal abuse, 1,945 animal abandonment.

Broken down into years, there were 1,195 crimes last year, 1,008 in 2021, 1,030 in 2,020, 1,089 in 2,019, and 1,008 in 2018.

The PSP, meanwhile, recorded a decrease in crimes during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, increasing again in 2022. Broken down into year there were 865 crimes in 2022, 833 in 2021, 801 in 2020, 952 in 2019 and 951 in 2018.

The GNR also reports that it issued 18,690 fines for offences against pet animals in the last five years, with the highest number in 2018 (5,393), followed by 2019 (5,107), 2022 (3,357), 2020 (2,587) and 2021 (2,246).

This security force states that crimes of ill-treatment are provided for in the Penal Code and the facts are reported to the public prosecutor’s office and the offenders identified.

According to the GNR, dogs are the animals with the highest incidence of mistreatment and abandonment.

The PSP’s data show that reports encompass not only criminal situations of abandonment and mistreatment of pet animals, but all occurrences related to animals’ well-being, including “suspicious situations that, subsequently, need to be inspected and investigated”.

The police stress that part of the complaints received “are not followed by criminal or misdemeanour proceedings because the situation reported does not correspond to any crime, or because the evidence gathered does not allow the suspicion to be referenced”.

The most common complaints are those from neighbours about dogs that are barking on a balcony, or in a yard that is dirty, “has an unpleasant smell”, owners who have left without leaving water or food for the animals, dogs that are not walked, or walked without a leash, as well as aggressiveness of animals.

But as Lusa’s report stresses, “ill treatment of companion animals has been a criminal offence since 2014, several people have already been convicted in lower courts” but appeals have all been overturned by the Constitutional Court.

Public prosecutors have since requested the declaration of unconstitutionality of the rule that criminalizes anyone who, without legitimate reason, kills or mistreats companion animals – and now it is up to the constitutional review underway to try and redraft legislation so that it can finally stand up in the Portuguese courts.

Source material: LUSA