Portugal’s animal abandonment crisis has reached the point of misery for its four-legged victims that they are simply giving up and dying.
In the context of a national scenario where all kennels and shelters are full to bursting – leaving hundreds of abandoned animals roaming the streets – shelter boss Ema Mock explains “abandonment really kills”.
“Cats that have been living all their lives in a home without contact with others of their species suddenly find themselves in a cage, having to get used to the presence of other animals. After two or three days they get depressed and die”, she told Jornal i.
They essentially commit suicide, Mock stressed: “Nothing we do cheers them up. No cuddles, no amount of holding or syringe feeding – nothing works”.
Ema Mock’s criticism comes as the sector has reached a new nadir in terms of coping with the level of animal abandonment.
With the law prohibiting euthanasia in kennels in place since last September, the situation has reached absurdity, says Ricardo Lobo of the national association of municipal veterinarians.
Jorge Cid, the heard of the country’s veterinary association agrees, saying councils are now shirking their responsibilities to collect wandering animals “because there is nowhere to put them”.
The crisis has developed since the ‘no kill kennel’ rule – and was predicted years ago when the law was proposed by PAN, the People’s Animals Nature party (click here).
Now, no amount of online platforms trying to encourage people to adopt unwanted cats and dogs seems to be making much of a difference: and the predicament of those ‘on the outside’ continues.
Says Jornal i, the government body in charge of the sector (DGAV) has no data on the number of animals abandoned in Portugal every year – but official ‘centres of recovery’ (CROs) are taking in around 50,000 a year, according to Ricardo Lobo, and only rehoming around 17,000.
Certainly Ema Mock has never seen so many cats come through her association’s doors.
And as Jorge Cid rails, the forward-planning that went in to preparations for ‘no kill kennels’ has been desperately inadequate.
Advising people to “avoid rural areas and the peripheries of towns and cities” due to roaming packs of dogs that are now breeding in the wild (click here), he says the situation is “inadmissible in a European country that wants to see itself as developed”.
Cid’s interim solution is for “a working group of various entities” to form (as soon as possible) to try and “drastically reduce animal abandonment”.
In the meantime, the question of how to create more shelters is left hanging.