Anti-slaughter law “urgent” as 100,000 animals are put down every year

As the government considers a law to end animal slaughters at Portuguese kennels, it has been revealed that around 100,000 animals are put down in the country every year – around 300 every day.

“There are kennels that have a slaughter rate of over 90%,” Pedro Fonseca from animal rights party PAN told Sol newspaper, citing data from a study conducted by the CDS-PP in 2011.

Fonseca explained that due to “questionable rules” it is hard for an animal to be adopted from a kennel. In the first eight days of being in a kennel, the animal’s owner can still claim it and thus adoption is not possible. However, after that period, some kennels opt to put down the animal, Fonseca explains

Overcrowded kennels are another issue, especially in the summer or at the end of the hunting season, when people go on holiday or hunters no longer want the animal.

Fonseca says that to solve these issues there are “a number of measures”. One of them is sterilisation in order to avoid the proliferation of stray animals. Another is to turn municipal kennels into “safe havens where animals can be fostered and treated” and where members of animal associations can provide support.

The animal rights advocate added that a registry of adopted animals is also “essential” in order to identify owners in cases of abandonment.

The topic of animal slaughters at kennels made it to Parliament last month following a citizens’ initiative (ILC) promoted by PAN which received over 43,000 signatures in just two-and-a-half months.

A draft law proposed by the Communist Party (PCP) to forbid the slaughter of healthy animals at kennels and instead promote sterilisation has already been discussed and is currently being analysed by the parliamentary commission of agriculture and sea.

Algarve PSD MP Cristóvão Norte, an animal rights activist and one of the main promoters of the country’s recent animal protection law, says the goal now is to find feasible solutions to a problem that is “undeniably of public interest”.

However, he points out that a new law will have to give municipalities enough time to adapt to new rules. He does not know when or if the new law will be approved as the opinions of municipalities, the veterinarians’ association and animal welfare groups still have to be heard.

Laurentina Pedroso, the head of the veterinarians’ association, says municipalities and kennels have to be prepared for new rules, which means they have to have the “infrastructures and money” to be able to foster the animals.

“They need to have the human resources and the conditions to promote the adoption of animals, including vaccination and sterilisation programmes in place” before the law can be passed, she said.

She also warned that around 50% of kennels in Portugal aren’t even legal and gave the example of Madeira Island, which doesn’t have a municipal vet but has banned animal slaughter at kennels. “How are they going to vaccinate and sterilise the animals,” she asked.