With the growth in the number of pets per household, the need to look after the well-being of "Man's best friend" also increased. As such, there are several associations and fundraising campaigns that promote solidarity, asking for food or money to help animals that are found on the streets or abandoned by their caregivers.
In the Pet Information System (SIAP), in 2020, more than 2.6 million pets were registered, noting that the dog is still the favourite pet in Portuguese families, accounting for 90 percent of the registered animals in the country. In second place are cats, with a total of 241,000 registered animals (an increase of 126 percent, compared to the previous year) and in third place are ferrets, with 1,191 registered animals.
In Portugal, for example, in the political panorama, there is the PAN party, which in addition to fighting for the living conditions of humans, also fights for the basic rights of animals. The party managed, for example, to secure a budget of 10 million approved in the 2022 State Budget, to be used by local authorities and animal associations.
The €10 million value is to be divided three different ways: €7 million to be divided directly to associations and autarchies; €1.8 million will be used to provide and facilitate support for animals from needy families and the remaining €1.2 million would be used in sterilisation campaigns and in carrying out the surgical procedure and microchipping, which is mandatory.
Animal rights defenders are advocating for the creation of a national animal health system to prevent animal neglect and suffering. Maria Cruz created a public petition aimed at creating this system, signed by more the 4,000 people, as the only hospital that operated under these guidelines became a private hospital, with costs not accessible to all.
Defenders of the national veterinary health system argue that since it is mandatory to implement microchips in pets, as well as the inoculation of mandatory vaccines, a national health system for pets should be implemented in Portugal. However, to reduce veterinary expenses, some insurers offer services for pets, at a price that varies according to the services required, which can be reversed into discounts on expenses at a veterinary office. In addition, those veterinary expenses can be deductible at 15 percent on the household's IRS.
Several Portuguese municipalities have a kennel where stray or abandoned animals are housed. The animals that reside in the kennels are available for adoption and can be taken by a family that is committed to treating the animal with all the respect and love it needs. Certain municipalities offer cheaper veterinary services to the animals of families residing in the municipality to which the kennel belongs. Vaccines and sterilisation are generally cheaper than private clinics and procedures are also performed by professionals. In kennels, euthanasia is authorised for animals with diseases that justify the procedure.
In 2017, Portuguese legislation stopped looking at animals as objects, but as living beings endowed with sensitivity, with prison sentences or fines applied according to the crime committed.
According to Portuguese law, mistreatment of animals that causes suffering, death or abandonment is punishable by up to one year in prison. However, due to the difficulty in reporting situations of animal abandonment, in July 2021, only 349 crimes of animal abandonment were registered by the GNR and PSP.