In its ‘note of clarification’ published on social media and other resources last week, Portimão council stressed “there is no ongoing communication campaign with a door-to-door distribution of leaflets or other public information campaigns against feeding street animals”.
It also strenuously denied any problems “in general terms in the municipality, of dirty public spaces due to the feeding of stray or street animals”.
The council conceded that, “every now and then, situations are detected, either by [council waster collection company] EMARP’s own services or through citizens’, of mess resulting from food left in public spaces for feeding animals, namely wild animals such as seagulls”.
Portimão council said it was precisely this, “the undue feeding of seagulls in public spaces”, which led to the said distribution of a small number of leaflets within a restricted area within the city
The statement claimed that the leaflet in question was “produced more than 10 years ago before measures to control stray animals were put into practice, which are now a reality thanks to partnerships between the municipality and the Veterinary Medical Service and animal protection associations, as well as thanks to the great willingness of hundreds of anonymous volunteers”.
In a nutshell, the council reiterated: “It was a reuse of a leaflet for a specific case of undue feeding of seagulls”.
Portimão council said it “regrets any misunderstanding” and will be giving instructions to the EMARP department “to suspend the use of the leaflet in question in actions of public awareness and civic education”.
Acknowledging that the content on the front of the leaflet is “very different from that on the back”, the municipal statement agreed it “could generate incorrect interpretations in the behaviours that the citizens should adopt mainly towards abandoned/stray animals such as dogs and cats”.
However, wanting to seize the momentum to enhance public awareness on the issue, the council wished to restate that it “shares the concerns of animal rights associations, in particular by calling for the non-abandonment of animals” and explained concrete measures are in progress in the municipality of Portimão, aimed at the welfare of stray animals, such as partnerships with ADAP - Portimão Animal Protection Association.
The council further highlighted its adoption and neutering policies, stressing that 242 dogs and 58 cats were adopted from the local municipal kennel (Canil de Portimão) in 2018.
Lastly, and in capital letters, Portimão council urged inhabitants and visitors to ‘not feed the seagulls’ and to “let nature take care of itself!”