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Posted by portugalpress on September 12, 2018

Around 100 people took part in a “peaceful march for animal rights” in Faro last Saturday (September 8) to draw attention to the lack of government support regarding animal welfare issues.

The march, organised by Algarve animal activist Luísa Canário, focused on the “lack of sterilisation programmes, lack of municipal facilities and resources to help the animals, lack of punishment for those inflicting animal cruelty and delays in the implementation of laws such as the no-kill municipal kennels”.

Below is the message three animal rights activists, Juliet Aherne, Louise Aherne and Luísa Canário, sent to the Resident this week and which they hope will find its way to the government:

"Every single day, here in the Algarve and across Portugal, animals are neglected, abused and abandoned. Every single day, animals are disrespected, treated as rubbish, ignored and forgotten. Every single day is a never-ending battle for all animal welfare groups, rescue shelters and individuals.

It's time to listen, it’s time for change. The number of unwanted dogs and cats continues to escalate. Municipal kennels, animal rescue shelters and associations are overcrowded and have reached breaking point.

Private animal shelters receive little or no public funding and operate solely with volunteers and donations. Municipal kennels are outdated with less than basic conditions. The legalisation of animal shelters involves a lot of bureaucracy, and there are many restrictions that are impossible to comply with without the proper funding.

The GNR rely heavily on local shelters to deposit abandoned and stray animals they are called upon to collect. The public also rely on their local shelters to deposit these animals. There is never the room at municipal kennels, yet the government ignores this fact.

The majority of shelters will ensure that the animals admitted receive immediate veterinary health checks and vaccinations, and that dogs are chipped and sterilised at appropriate times. All of this will be achieved by fund-raising and private donations.

The purpose of these shelters is to provide shelter and care, but also to protect these animals from future danger or abandonment, and to find suitable long-term re-homing.

Apart from on-hand volunteers, there are many people in the local communities who work tirelessly in providing interim foster homes.

And yet it is common for these shelters to receive complaints or visits from local authorities and be subject to fines or, worse, ordered to close, even when there are no solutions for the relocation of the animals.

The government has long been aware of the escalating problem and has passed various legislations, which, if adequately enforced, would be an important step towards protecting all animals from human abuse, ill treatment and abandonment. Sadly, without the enforcement of these laws, nothing changes except that the statistics of animals rescued and collected grows every year as does the number of those put to sleep.

Last year 40,674 animals were rescued, 11,819 were put to sleep. This is a figure released by municipal kennels and does not include all those rescued by private shelters and individuals.

The government passed legislation to become effective on September 23 of this year to prohibit the slaughter of healthy dogs as a means of population control. However, with no alternative provision in place to house and care for thousands more dogs, an even more serious crisis, including the outbreak of rabies, is facing us here in the Algarve and the rest of the country.

A very grave step backwards, and unless every person opens their eyes to the situation and starts to work together to educate and change the country's perception of responsibility towards animals, cruelty and negligence will not be eradicated, animals will continue to be abandoned and dumped in bins, by the side of the road and on our door steps. All these animals will be destined to a life of uncontrolled breeding and misery.

We need extensive government sterilisation programmes, not token ones that don't even touch the surface. We need education programmes in schools.”

Photos: HANNAH EDDY

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