Until quite recently, Portugal had a reputation for having dogs chained up both in suburban and rural areas. In many rural areas this problem still exists but things fortunately have improved in suburban areas. With the improvement in education and more emphasis on animal welfare being taught at some schools this is gradually being solved but the Portuguese authorities, GNR-SEPNA, still need to act with harsher punishments for those that breach these laws.
Many a time I have come across dogs in an extreme state of malnutrition with very short chains (less than 1/2 meter) and it is heartbreaking to see these animals trying to survive. It is just as difficult in trying to deal with the owners and convince them to lengthen the chain, take the animal for a walk, etc. There are still several families that I visit that keep animals in this state and my mission when I go there is to amicably chat with them asking if I can take the dogs for a walk. Fortunately I have gained their confidence and they allow me to deworm the animals, apply flea collars, etc. and I always bring fresh water and dried food to alleviate the financial situation of the family in question as many of the families I deal with are in the very low-income bracket.
At Aanifeira we interview future adoptees asking them if the animal they are looking for is to be chained up and when we get a ‘yes’ reply then we politely say that as our animals are in boxes we will only allow them to be adopted in a free environment where they can have space to run and play. This is not always met very favourably but it is our policy and if it means turning potential adoptees away then we do it.
I recently discovered two American websites that give a wealth of excellent advice with free downloads on helping a chained dog and I strongly suggest that if anyone finds themself in this position where they want to help an animal but feel uncertain as to how they should approach the situation, then click on these two logos below to find out more! We need to act urgently to help a chained dog – it is incredibly cruel and an animal endures a life of hardship with very little human contact.