“Absurd” amount of abandoned animals in Portugal

By Daisy Sampson, in News · 30-08-2019 01:00:00 · 15 Comments

A lack of resources, overcrowding in kennels and no support for poorer families have all contributed to the “absurd” number of abandoned animals in Portugal

The Association of Municipal Vets has warned about the “absurd” numbers of animals – some 50,000 per year, that are collected from the streets.

According to Ricardo Lobo, one of the directors of the Association of Municipal Vets, in 2017 and 2018 the number of animals collected by official collection centres (CRO) was around 41,000 and 36,000, respectively, while the number of adoptions is 17 thousand animals annually.

“The number of abandoned animals, which we are asked to collect, is still at a perfectly absurd level, which is why kennels can’t collect them,” Lobo told Lusa.

“Besides carrying a cost that the country is not prepared to bear, it doesn’t make any sense to build more kennels - each municipality would have to build “two or three kennels every year,” to house all its abandoned animals.

As well as sterilisation policies, Ricardo Lobo considered that the fight against the increase of stray animals is to educate people, which will take a long time to happen.

“We have a lack of general education about what it is to own pets,” said Ricardo Lobo, reiterating the need to create laws of supervision, punishment and awareness.

According to the vet, it is possible to “change mentalities” through awareness campaigns in schools.

“We can change mentalities. We can change perceptions of what it is like to have a pet, so that children don’t have to pressure their parents to acquire a pet without them having the proper conditions”, he said.

Ricardo Lobo sees the future with some “apprehension”, because of the accumulation of dogs on the streets, which can transmit diseases and attack people.

Animals on the streets are prone to transmit diseases, he recalled, warning of the vaccination of all animals, in order to stagnate the propensity of diseases such as rabies, which exists in “North Africa and the Maghreb”.

The president of the Order of Veterinary Doctors, Jorge Cid, has accused the authorities of failing to comply with the law that requires the collection of abandoned animals, because of overcrowding in the official collection centres.

“The law is not being carried out,” he said, “the law requires stray animals to be collected by the competent authorities - Municipalities, PSP and GNR”, adding that this is not happening because they “have no place to put them”.

In September last year, the law prohibiting the killing of animals in kennels began to be applied in Portugal, a 2016 law that also provides for the creation of a network of official animal collection centres.

According to the president, during the transitional period of two years, between 2016 and 2018, there was no concern of the entities in controlling the abandonment of animals.

“For two years little has been done. When the measure came into force the kennels were already overcrowded and, therefore, it was already known that this problem would not be resolved ”, said the president, who still considered the law beneficial.

Jorge Cid also acknowledged the need to create a working group capable of controlling the situation and building more collection centres.
“We have to set up a working group with a number of stakeholders who are knowledgeable about drastically reducing the number of abandoned animals,” he said. “It is not acceptable in a developed European country to have abandoned animals”.

The president has ensured that stray animals pose a danger to the population, as well as to other animals, particularly those of livestock origin and went so far as to advise people to avoid outlying areas of cities and rural areas, where packs of dogs can be found, so as not to risk being attacked.

“There are many kinds of stray animals. There are those who are inside cities and towns, who are protected by the people of the neighbourhood, who have food and are generally tame animals, and then there are the animals from the peripheries, which gather in packs and pose a threat,” he said.

In January this year, the National Association of Municipal Veterinary Physicians highlighted the existence of “waiting lists” in the municipal kennels, making it impossible to collect abandoned animals.

Meanwhile, Animalife, a voluntary organisation working with abandoned pets, has defended the need to offer support for poorer families with dependent animals and animal adoption as means to combat animal abandonment.

In a statement, the association, created in 2011, considers that the measures provided by the current legislation “are not the most appropriate to put an end to the problem of abandonment of pets.

“The solution to abandonment should include measures such as supporting families in situations of extreme economic need with dependent animals and promoting awareness campaigns calling for adoption instead of purchase,” argues the association.

President of Animalife, Rodrigo Livreiro, stresses that to prevent abandonment, action should be taken. Support for needy families is the first preventive measure.

“We know that many of the animals that are delivered to the CRO are because of lack of financial resources”.

Regarding sterilisation, the president of Animalife advocates that it be extended to animals with owners, “to avoid unwanted litters, especially of animals from people with few financial resources”.

In this regard, Rodrigo Livreiro regretted the reduced investment in campaigns to support the sterilisation of dogs and cats.
“In April last year, the government approved a campaign to support the sterilisation of companion dogs and cats, for a total value of €500,000. By the end of the year, just over half of the available funds had been used,” he said.


I am from Canada and just moved in the Algarve. I am shocked and terrified of all the strays. Almost got into an accident on the highway as the dogs were trying to cross. Cannot have a peaceful walk with my dogs around ( they are small). I go out with water spray bottle and a stick!! Really!
Third world country....

By Caroline from Algarve on 24-02-2021 08:19

I’m appalled to read the current situation regarding abandoned dogs in Portugal . I’m here on vacation from Canada and have seen three dogs So far who are clearly abandoned as they have collars on but are undernourished eating from garbage cans. We looked for a rescue, or animal shelter to take one of these dogs who was a senior and found there is no where to take these animals. Something needs to be done from your government as this doesn’t sound like it’s a new problem.

By Cathy Zinck from Other on 23-10-2020 01:56

I am about to adopt a dog from a group/association called www.sos-strays.nl. They are amazing. they bring stray dogs into the Netherlands and place them in foster homes where there are people, other dogs, cats. That way they get to know them in a setting that is not a kennel. I have noticed the vast majority of their dogs in from Spain. Every now and then a PT dog trickles in - I thought this was because there weren't many (I don't live in Portugal since 2007). Unfortunately I see that I was wrong. Let's hope some more of the PT strays make it to the Netherlands. If nobody else can help in PT. And it is unfortunately a problem of that goes much deeper than economic status. I agree with that.

By Sandra Pinto Marques from Other on 19-10-2020 08:52

I came to Portugal to search for the perfect place to settle, instead, I been put off by the cruelty of the people chain their dogs, abandon animals, and use them as a commodity.
I'm not impressed, a civilized country punishes severely cruelty but here even if there is law in place is considered normal to chain or abandon.
I have to said Portugal has still long way to go to become civilized.

By Daniele Longo from Other on 10-07-2020 10:35

It’s not just the poor abandoning their pets in Portugal. The owner of the apt I rented in Carcavelos owned several properties including an apartment on Av Liberdade and abandoned his cat. The sack of sh** pretended not to know a thing about the “gato de rua” that hung around his house when in fact in hung around because it was his. I took her in of course but it goes to show this is a more about backward thinking than financial hardship.

By Alex from Lisbon on 30-01-2020 03:24

Well, I picked up two baby-cats in a box on the street two years ago, as I love cats, they are castrated now. Later a baby dog was put into my land, I gave it to a friend of mine, who was happy with this little dog.

But generally there should not be a law, that forbids killing stray animals. It may be necessary. We kill cows and pigs everyday for eating, why not also dogs and cats, if they are a danger!

Another solution may be baits with stuff that makes the animals impotent.....

By johanne from Alentejo on 03-09-2019 09:03

I'd love to take a couple dogs any chance you helping get them to me and send some over to us in scotland as alot of people would take them ps get back to me

By Lorraine brown from UK on 02-09-2019 12:57

As you know unless sterilisation happens as fast as possible, it becomes out of control and much more expensive as each litter from just 1 dog or cat is then many others.

By P Thompson from UK on 01-09-2019 06:33

Chip vaccinations neuter please don't kill all strays, try to rehome as many as possible... open more no kill shelters...give good jobs to humane good loving people be sure not cruel! Some are!!! Close puppy mills!

By Lynn Fraser from USA on 01-09-2019 04:57

Let's not talk of 'more support' for poor families. That sort of family shouldn't be owning a pet in the first place if they can't afford it. No-one has an automatic right to own a pet, and attempt to dump the financial responsibility that goes with it on the taxpayer. So let's stop this journalistic nonsense of blaming everyone else, and place the blame firmly where it belongs - on the shoulders of irresponsible pet owners.
I favour a registration system where dog owners must complete a mandatory training course and pay for this out of their own pocket. There is an annual dog tax in the Netherlands, which charges around €100 per dog.

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 01-09-2019 12:51

It's unacceptable that owners land up abandoning pets and if found to do so, they should be heavily fined. Each pet should be microchipped, and licenced, and if lost, easier to locate & returned to their owners, Properties better secured and better care to be taken of pets. They deserve nothing less. Children to be educated at home and at young ages thru schools and the dogs spayed/ neuted. No pets to be sold by pet shops, but rather thru the SPCA and breeding of dogs & therefore the exploiting
of them for personal financial gain must be prohibited. All these measures enforced should reduce unwanted and stay pets.

By Jean Sives from UK on 31-08-2019 11:41

This is totally out of order of the Portuguese goverment all strays should be neutered automatically when picked up by a vet.also chipping should be more stringent.these poor innocent dogs abandoned for no reason educate your children in the schools.the world is watching shame on you

By Eleanor Cartwright from UK on 31-08-2019 08:43

Any abandoned animal is distressing and we the animal lovers of Portugal must unite and form a network to promote adoption not purchase, greater awareness of the responsibilities of owning an animal, chipping laws and procedures put in place by the Camara's at a local level for dog ownership to be a mandatory registration.

Why not a dog awareness day created at a national level that can be implemented in every concelho.

By Jonathan Meavher from Lisbon on 31-08-2019 08:03

What can we do to help?

By Dolores from Alentejo on 30-08-2019 09:26

It is clear the present animal protection law does not secure animal well being. Painless terminating 'unwanted' animals in kennels should be allowed again, chipping & sterelising of dogs and cats mandatory as well as an on line health register storing vaccinations plus remarks by the police concerning the anila's well being.

By Bruno Ghise from Other on 30-08-2019 03:21
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.