Reports of animal cruelty skyrocket thanks to new protection law

Reports of animal cruelty skyrocket thanks to new protection law

More people are reporting cases of animal cruelty and abandonment to the police. Since Portugal’s animal protection law came into effect on October 1, 2014, more than 500 reports were made to the GNR’s SEPNA environmental unit – only 18 were considered criminal offences though.

While before the law 41 reports, on average, were made on a monthly basis, now the average number of cases is 197.

Faro was one of the districts with the most criminal cases – two for animal abuse and another for abandonment. Says SEPNA, two dogs were found “malnourished and abandoned” in a house in Loulé, while another was found abandoned in Faro.

Other animal abuse crimes took place in Aveiro, Portalegre, Porto, Leiria and the Azores and Madeira islands.

SEPNA says that while the authorities investigate these cases, the animals become the responsibility of the municipal vet who is notified to find them somewhere to stay – in most cases in the local municipal kennels.

According to the law, animal abusers, who, “without a legitimate motive, inflict pain, suffering or any other kind of physical mistreatment to a pet animal”, face a one-year prison sentence or a 120-day fine.

If mistreatment intends to “cause the animal’s death or serious and/or permanent injury to the animal, compromising its ability to move” then prison time may go up to two years or the accused may face a 240-day fine.

Abandoning pet animals is also punishable by a six-month jail sentence or a 60-day fine.