More and more people take care of their pets like family members. However, there are still many scandals due to cruelty to animals that cause outrage in society. So the following question arises: what rights do owners have over their pets and when can I report an abusive situation?

Pet Registration

Decree-Law No. 82/19 established new rules regarding the registration of animals with the creation of the Information System for Pets (SIAC), in hopes of “preventing abandonment and its consequences for the health and safety of people and animal welfare”.

SIAC consists of a public database, which aggregates all information about pets, from owner data, to where they live and under what conditions. Therefore, according to the new law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be identified, registered and have mandatory health information (such as vaccines) updated.

In this sense, all pets born in Portugal, or those that live in the national territory for a period equal to or greater than 120 days, must be registered in this system (within 120 days following birth). After registration, the system will issue a DIAC document - a Pet Identification Document that must always be with the pet.

Any change to the information contained in the SIAC, namely change of owner and residence, has to be updated in the system. In addition, all dogs, cats and ferrets need a microchip, placed by a veterinarian, under the skin of the pet’s neck.

The law also establishes that all owners of these pets must comply with animal welfare standards and ensure hygienic and sanitary requirements, providing veterinary care when necessary. Non-compliance with these rules may end up in the payment of fines between €50 and €3,740.

In case of death or disappearance, the owner must notify the death to SIAC, otherwise the animal will be considered abandoned.

Can Landlords ban tenants with pets?

This is a very controversial subject. On the one hand, there is a need to find a home for tenants who are often rejected immediately after informing landlords that they have a pet. On the other hand, owners claim to have the right to reject pets in their home because they can damage the property. But who is right?

In this sense, the only thing the law requires is that rental property advertisements shouldn’t contain any restrictions or preferences based on discriminatory criteria. However, landlords are free to choose the tenant they wish to live in their properties.

Animal related crimes

In Portugal, between 2009 and 2015, laws were created to punish those whose cruelty to animals ended in their death, with up to two years in prison

According to the criminal code, anyone who injures or causes suffering to a pet without reason can be sentenced to up to one year in prison. As for abandonment, anyone who has the duty to look after a pet and then abandons it, can be punished with up to six months in prison.

So far, it is not forbidden to keep animals chained on a terrace. So, while the practice of this kind of situation causes outrage in those who witness it, chaining is not considered mistreatment.

However, the PAN party wants to change this legal framework, arguing that it should be illegal to have pets on chains for more than three hours; however, so far it is just a bill that needs to be approved in the parliament first, which means that having a pet chained is not illegal as long as it meets all other requirements.

According to this party, it is necessary to educate and make people aware of the consequences for the physical and mental health of animals that spend their lives chained or confined in small places, such as terraces.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins