Drunken dog walking a crime

A new law imposing substantial fines or prison sentences on owners who walk their potentially dangerous dogs publically under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be put into effect on August 3.

The new legal framework regarding the breeding, mating and possession of potentially dangerous animals will therefore reinforce the penal regime as well as the requirements for their ownership.

According to the new rules, “whoever circulates on public roads, public areas or in common areas in urban buildings with potentially dangerous animals, registering a blood alcohol level above 1.2 grams per litre, will be sentenced to a year in prison or a fine of up to 360 days’ pay”.

Individuals under the influence of drugs will also be targeted under this new law and will be similarly punished.

Additionally, those who promote or organise animal-fighting events may face up to three years in prison. Fines have also been raised from €750 to €5,000 for people who do not have a licence for their animals, for the circulation of dangerous animals led by children under the age of 16, and for the lack of dog-training.

Owners must now possess a licence granted by the local parish council, have a clean criminal record and undergo special training with their dogs.

Consequently, the owners are “obliged to commence dog training focused on socialisation and obedience between the ages of six and twelve months, in order to increase the training’s success rate”.

Finally, the legislation will also force all owners of potentially dangerous animals born before July 2004 to register their pets in a database which will become accessible to the authorities.

In Portugal, there are seven dog breeds that are considered potentially dangerous – Rottweiller, Dogo Argentino, American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu, Pit Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The law governing potentially dangerous dog breeds in Portugal is extensive, but here are some of the requirements for ownership of such a breed in Portugal:

• the individual must be at least 18 years of age

• possess a licence issued by the Junta de Freguesia

• possess current civil liability insurance throughout the ownership period

• the dog must be micro-chipped

• the dog must wear a muzzle and be walked on a very short leash (maximum 1 metre length) when in public

• the property where the animal is kept must have reinforced security to prevent it from escaping

• the property must display a sign outside alerting others to the presence and danger posed by the animal

• the dog must be kept under close supervision by its owner to ensure the safety of other humans and animals.