Cruel death of a dog

A court in Coimbra has fined two young men, aged 21 and 22, charged with throwing a dog from the eighth floor of a block of apartments in April 2003. The dog died. Both men denied the charges in court, saying the animal was a stray and had jumped out of the veranda himself. This explanation was rejected by the court and, passing sentence, the court considered the men’s behaviour “abject”, “almost beyond belief” and “infamous”.

The court accepted that the men saw the dog when they arrived at the block of apartments, dragged him inside and, on the eighth floor, pushed the animal to the veranda, from where they threw him over the wall. The dog fell on a parked vehicle from a height of 20 metres. A woman living in one of the apartments saw the men entering the building and, two weeks later, received a death threat from the men if she reported them to the authorities. Both men are students and live with their parents. They had gone to the block of apartments to visit a friend.

They were sentenced to pay a fine of 2,200 euros and compensation to the owner of the damaged vehicle. With all due respect to the court, we animal lovers disagree with the sentence passed on the two men who committed this appalling crime against man’s best friend, in so far as it is not a deterrent to similar situations occurring in the future.

While fully agreeing with the court’s words to describe the men’s behaviour, we feel the sentence should have been harder and commensurate with the crime committed.

What can society expect of these young men who, having caused the violent death of a living creature, then threatened to kill the witness? Both have parents – one wonders what their reaction has been. It was a dog and it might have been a child or an elderly person because such people will stop at nothing. This appalling story reminds us, once again, of the problem of abandoned animals and the urgent need for the authorities to take decisive steps to eradicate it, holding the owners accountable for abandoning their pets. It is a well-known fact that such owners are responsible for a lot of unnecessary suffering.

According to recent figures released by the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, there are approximately one million abandoned animals in this country. Clearly, this shows that we are far behind many other European Union member countries.

Fernando Lopes, Carvoeiro

Algarve head of the Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos dos Animais