The draft bills, presented by the BE Left Bloc and PAN, Party for People, Animals and Nature, will be debated in Parliament on 2 July, along with a petition also demanding a dog-racing ban.
PAN’s proposal eyes a ban on dog-racing “across the country, regardless of breed” and calls for punishment for anyone “promoting, publicising, selling tickets, providing facilities, material, or any other activity aimed at the staging” of races.
Those who help organise or promote them may be “punished with a fine or up to two years’ in prison”, while anyone who “participates, in any way, with animals in races shall be punished with a fine or up to one year imprisonment”, PAN’s bill puts forward.
In comments quoted by newspaper Expresso, PAN MP André Silva stressed that “the dignity of non-human animals, in particular their right to life and physical, psychological and mental integrity, is an indisputable fact and has been recognised across society”.
This recognition, he argues “implies the creation of a legal framework adapted to its specificities and, in particular, to the need for measures aimed at its protection”.
Alluding to the law-change that came into effect in May 2017, which saw animals no longer considered by law as ‘things’ and which criminalised pet neglect and abandonment, Mr. Silva said “despite the recognition of this new statute for animals in general, and criminal protection for dogs in particular, it has been found that activities, such as greyhound racing, perpetuates the exploitation of animals which continues to emerge or persist”.
PAN explains that such events usually entail live bait, such as hares, and can involve dogs being doped with “substances such as ephedrine, arsenic, strychnine and sometimes cocaine”, which can lead to their abandonment or death.
The Left Bloc also highlights that greyhound racing “exists in several countries”, in cases involving betting, and is often accompanied by “violent training”.
“In many cases greyhound races are staged without any license and without the minimum support structures for animals”, the party points out.
Therefore the Leftists say they want to “ban greyhound and other dog racing”, arguing that “policies are needed to protect animal welfare, to ensure the non-promotion of illegal betting, to limit activities that link races to animal abandonment, arising of injuries and inadequacy, and since the races take place without any framework, namely of protection of the animals”.
Although it seeks to ban “greyhound and other dog races”, BE’s draft law does not foresee punishment for those involved, unlike PAN’s document.
A petition that has gathered more than 4,500 signatures will be analysed in Parliament on 2 July too, and also asks parliament to “create legislation to ban greyhound races in Portugal”.