Vets appeal for financial incentives for pet owners after Portugal registers 32,000 dumped cats and dogs

2014 set a grim new record in the number of pet animals thrown out by their owners. According to the latest data from veterinary authorities, as many as 32,000 cats and dogs were dumped last year – 2000 more than in 2013. The number translates into 600 animals being presented to municipal kennels up and down the country every week. The country’s vets association has now appealed for decisive action. It believes financial incentives awarded to animal lovers and owners could make all the difference.

In an open letter sent out to Portugal’s various political parties, the Order of Medical Veterinarians (OMV) points out that levels of abandonment also compromise public health.

A reduction in IVA (VAT) on animal-related expenses, and the ability for pet-owners to put these expenses on their annual tax returns could stem the “crisis” which may have reached a peak in 2014 but is nonetheless a major national problem.

OMV leader Laurentina Pedroso said the open letter asks MPs to “consider their future action and include fundamental measures within the 2016 State Budget that would allow Portuguese families to guarantee basic care for their pets”.

As the letter continues, the State already demands that pet owners vaccinate cats and dogs against rabies and get their dogs microchipped. These legal requirements cost money – as does the annual renewal of dog licences.

Stressing that on top of these expenses owners are encouraged to sterilise their pets – not only for their own peace of mind, but in the interests of public health and safety – the OMV makes a logical case for tax perks and incentives.

It’s a theme picked up by Correio da Manhã in a leader column today which focuses on the disgrace of animal abandonment.

Público too has given a lot of space this week to the record number of animals thrown out by their owners – stressing numbers this year “could be dropping” but the situation is far from under any kind of control.

Focus this week has been on the sad case of Sam – a sick adult dog found badly dehydrated and thrown in the rubbish in Vila Real.

As Público explains even after the location of Sam’s “owners” via the dog’s microchip, no prosecution is likely to follow, as the owners claimed their pet had been stolen two months previously.

There has been no official reaction this far to the OMV’s open letter.

[email protected]