After more than eight months of successive complaints from neighbours, 63 abandoned dogs were salvaged from a derelict house in Torres Vedras north of Lisbon. The animals were found to have been living in dire conditions, locked in a house, for six months. In the meantime, the elderly couple that owns the house have yet to be tracked down.
The animals were, according to Olinda Dias, president of the Torres Vedras animal rights and protection association, in desperate need of food and water after spending over six months locked within the various rooms of the house.
Following the emergence of this horror story last week, three national animal rights groups have announced they would be joining forces in order to take the Torres Vedras City Hall to court.
The groups will be lodging a complaint based on the city hall’s “omission to act when they had the duty to do so”.
The city hall had first been warned of this situation towards the end of last year, when a registered anonymous letter was sent, stressing the fact “that at least 30 dogs have been abandoned in a locked-up house”.
A number of dogs were found in the property’s garage, where they had remained for over half a year without fresh air or seeing the light of day, others being found dead, or covered in their own excrement.
Even though the circumstances had already been repeatedly reported to the local council, nothing was done until last week.
In their defence, the city hall justified this by only recently having attained a search warrant to enter the abandoned property, though according to Orlinda Dias,
“There is a law stating that if animals are at risk, then police are compelled to intervene”, and therefore, like residents in the area, fails to understand why the situation was allowed to continue for so long.
It has since emerged that officials from the City Hall, a local vet and the GNR had visited the house on a number of occasions since February, but none acted, believing they had no right to do so.
Olinda Dias explained what she when they finally ‘broke into the house’ last week as being “indescribable”.
“The dogs were skinny, starved, and their excrements were halfway up the wall. When we walked in, a bitch was giving birth while the other dogs were eating the newborn puppies”, explained a distraught Olinda Dias.
She concluded that the dogs belonged to a woman who had collected abandoned animals, but who since changed homes. In her absence, the dogs were fed once in a while by a man who would throw out the dead animals he would find during his sporadic visits.