Oops, meant to write "Canada Day".
Well, tomorrow is Canada Day. This got me thinking of what I miss from Canada, and something that I miss is the lack of consideration given to pets here in Portugal. At least the impression that I get is that pets here are rarely considered part of the family. You see examples of this every year, families abandoning pets during the summer in order to go on vacation without any worries, hunters abandoning packs of dogs after the hunting season, etc.*
Since I’m still traveling a lot between Coimbra and Lisbon, I’ve been unable to adopt a pet. So in order to do my part I recently joined BIANCA, which is an association that helps abandoned animals. You can visit the site here (or the English version). A word of warning though, you’ll most likely cry after seeing the pictures (especially the “In memory of…” part).
This leads to a very unfortunate lack of legal consequences for abuse and abandonment.
For example, if someone abandons his or her pet, there is no legal consequence. The property is theirs, they may do with it as they wish. It may constitute a violation of a municipal statute though, since it may be considered littering.
Killing or abusing your own pet also has no practical consequence, for the same reason. The same applies with killing or abusing abandoned animals. While they did have owners at one point, the act of abandonment constitutes the owners renunciation of the property right over the “res”, making it “res nullius”. Nobody’s property.
Killing another person’s pet is another matter, and is punishable both criminally and civilly. Criminally, the offender can be charged with “damages to a third party’s property”, which is punished by a fine or up to 3 years in jail.
Of course, the owner can sue for damages in civil court. With a lot of luck the indemnity awarded by the court just might cover legal costs. I haven’t had much luck finding case law on these situations, which isn’t very surprising considering they never go to appeals court. To be honest, I doubt they go to court at all.
Whoa.. quite the rant. Sorry.
Long story short, I suggest that you help out these associations, even if it’s just by offering a bag of dog food during their charity drives, usually held at the big shopping malls.
*Of course some Portuguese wise-guy will say “at least we don’t club baby seals to death!”
To him I say, “touché”.