Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Black cat in Portugal
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Stray cat Portugal 
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Comment — Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Portugal is a member of the European Union. The ideal is that member states have the same law as near as is practicable. There are even rules as to the shape of a tomato. Yet on fundamental issues such as animal welfare there are disparities between the member states. The long term members such as France, Germany and the UK have decent animal welfare laws. The earliest members generally fall behind. This is because they were not obliged to create good legislation supported by efficient enforcement before joining the EU.

Portugal is a well established member state of the EU. The country joined in 1986. Portugal has animal welfare law. It is repoduced below. This is as at Nov. 2008.  I have made the pesumption that the government of Portugal have waived copyright of their leglislation. If I am wrong please tell me. This is a translation. I am not sure how accurate it is. And neither am I sure that this is the complete modern version – law is often amended.

Although it covers the usual topics except it fails to deal with these issues:

  • there is one passing reference to animal experiments
  • the modern trend is to include a section on how to care for a companion animal. This is ommitted
  • as mentioned — penalties are not set out
  • the only definition is one that defines companion animals. This legislation is therefore solely about companion animals. The definition could be more precise or complete in my view
  • It fails to refer to and/or create organizations or bodies that are authoritized to manage the Act and ensure that its terms are carried out and enforced under specified methods and systems
  • it fails to deal with the management of the legislation at local authority level or to state if it is enforceable at national level. In the UK the RSPCA enforce animal welfare law in cooperation with the police and local authorities
  • it allows sport hunting and/or there are no controls on hunting. The Iberian Lynx is critically endangered – so surprise I guess
  • it fails to deal with responsible ownership including identification (e.g. microchipping)
  • it needs more detail and looks incomplete

You think that this is wrong or innaccurate? Please Have a Say.

If the legislation as set out below is the entire legislation it requires secondary legislation to make it function as it is too short, too open and lacks detail. Penalties for example are referred to at article 9 as being dealt with in other legislation. This is unusual. All the other animal welfare legislation that I have seen includes penalties within the primary legislation. This clearly simplifies and clariifies the law.

There is an online petition circulating that requests that Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection laws be improved (as at Nov. 2008). Please sign it.

There would seem to be a substantial amount of apathy and lack of commitment on behalf of the government and indeed the people generally. However, a survey indicates an overwhelming desire by the Portugese people to instigate fresh animal welfare law. I can’t find information about a Portugese equivalent to the UK RSPCA.

The answer is relatively simply. To redraft primary legislation and set up bodies to manage and enforce it. There are plenty of good models and legislation around to copy/use as a starting point. No doubt business and the hunting lobby are obstacles.

Legislation  — Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection legislation:


General Principles of Protection


Article 1st

General measures of protection

1 – All unjustified violence against animals is forbidden, being considered as such the acts which consist in, unnecessarily, inflict death, cruel and prolonged suffering or severe lesions to an animal.

2 – The animals that have diseases, are wounded or in danger should, whenever it is possible, be helped.

3 – It is also forbidden the practice of acts that consist in:

a) Demanding from an animal, in cases where there are not emergencies, efforts or performances that, by virtue of his condition, he is obviously incapable of performing them or that are obviously beyond his possibilities;

b) Using whips with ties, spurs with more than 5 mm, or other perforating tools in the leading of animals, with the exception of those used in the equestrian art and in lawful bullfights;

c) Acquiring or disposing of an animal that is weakened, sick, worn out or aged, that has lived in a domestic environment, in a commercial, industrial or other premise, under protection and human care, to any end that be not that of his treatment and recovery; or, should that be the case, the induction of an immediate and respectful death;

d) Intentionally abandoning in the street animals that have been maintained under human care and protection, in a domestic environment or in a commercial or industrial premise;

e) Using animals for ends of didactics, training, filming, exhibitions, advertising or similar activities, as far as that results in considerable pain or suffering for them, unless in a scientific experiment of proved necessity;

f) Using animals for particularly difficult trainings or in experiments or entertainment activities which consist in morally confronting different animals with each other, unless in the practice of hunting.

4 – The species of animals that are endangered are object of protection measures, namely for the preservation of the ecosystems to which they belong.



Commerce and spectacles with animals


Article 2nd   

Municipal licence

Without prejudice to the determined in Chapter III as to companion animals, any physical or collective person that explores the commerce of animals, that keeps animals in exchange for a payment, that rears them for commercial ends, that rents them, that serves herself of an animal for transportation ends, that exposes or exhibits them with a commercial purpose, will only be authorized to do it with a municipal authorization, which can be given as long as the municipal services confirm that the conditions determined by Law which aim to insure animal welfare and health are fulfilled.


Article 3rd

Other authorisations

1 – Any physical or collective person that uses animals for ends of commercial spectacle cannot do it without a previous authorization of the competent entity or entities (General Administration of Spectacles and respective municipality).

2 – Bullfights are authorized in the established terms.


Article 4th

Prohibition of the use of wounded animals

The vertebrates that exhibit wounds apparently provoked by actions that are contrary to animal protection legislation can be prohibited of entering in national territory as well as in commercial circuits whenever the survival of those animals is only possible with a considerable amount of suffering therefore implied; in this case the animals should be euthanised.



Elimination and identification of animals by municipalities


Article 5th    

Stray animals

1 – In the cities in which the number of stray animals constitutes a problem, municipalities may reduce its number, provided that they do it according to methods that do not cause evitable pain or suffering.

2 – These measures should imply that, if these animals should be captured, that be done with the minimum physical or psychological suffering, considering animal nature and, for that matter, that, in the cases when captured animals have to be restrained or slaughtered, such happens in conformity with non-cruel methods.


Article 6th

Planned reproduction

Municipalities should:

1) Advise the owners of animals to reduce the non-planed reproduction of dogs and cats, promoting their sterilization whenever that is advisable;

2) Encourage people who find stray dogs and cats to report it to municipal services.


Article 7th         

Public transportations

With exception to attendable reasons – such as the danger, the health or hygiene state – the responsibles for public transportations cannot refuse the transport of companion animals, provided that these are properly accompanied and conditioned.


Article 8th 


For the effect of this law it is considered that a companion animal is any animal detained or destined to be detained by man, namely in his home, for his pleasure and as a company.


Article 9th


The sanctions for the infringement of this law will be object of a special law.


Article 10th

Animal protection associations

The animal protection associations legally constituted have legitimacy to require to all authorities and courts the preventive and urgent measures that are necessary and adequate to avoid on-going or imminent violations.

These organizations can assist all the processes originated or relative to the violation of the present law and are excused from the payment of judicial expenses and fee.


Approved in June 21st, 1995.


The President of the Parliament,

António Moreira Barbosa de Melo


Promulgated in August 24th, 1995.


To be published.


The President of the Republic,

Mário Soares


Referended in August 29th, 1995.


The Prime Minister,

Aníbal António Cavaco Silva

— Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection

From Portugal Cat Animal Welfare Protection to Cats and the Law

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