Organisations in Portugal battling animal abandonment with almost 42,000 strays reported last year

Image of stray dogs in a shelter.

Image of stray dogs in a shelter. Credit: Anton Gvozdikov/

ALMOST 42,000 stray animals were rounded up last year in Portugal.

According to the latest data from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), 41,994 animals were picked up off the street or delivered to the official collection centres.

The figure for 2022 is down on the 43,603 strays that the Official Collection Centers (CRO) received in 2021. However, this abandonment appears to continue to increase in cities such as Lisbon and Torres Vedras.

These latest figures also show an increase of more than ten thousand animals that were received by CROs in 2020, reported this Sunday, October 22.

Abandonment increased between 2021 and 2022

Analysis carried out in 10 random cities the the Lusa agency revealed that there was an increase in animals collected between 2021 and 2022.

In Torres Vedras, the number rose from 672 to 877 last year, while in Lisbon it went from 945 to 1,166 animals, according to ICNF data.

In the rest of the cities studied, there was a decrease. With a total of 886, Sintra showed just one less animal collected in 2020 and Santo Tirso went from 1,505 animals collected down to 947. Statistics pointed to a national reduction of 3.9 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

Speaking to Lusa, Sofia Baptista, the person responsible for Casa dos Animais de Lisboa (CAL), admitted that the upward trend could continue.

‘Since last year, and especially this year, we have felt an increase in the number of requests for us to receive the animals’, said the veterinarian.

Baptista explained that among the requests for help there were cases of families that had been evicted and others who were facing economic difficulties.

‘We often feel that the owners really want to keep the animals’, she suggested, especially because ‘more and more families are people with animals’, she pointed out.

CAL promotes the capture and treatment of animals, carries out actions to reduce abandonment, and promotes responsible adoption.

In these tasks, it counts on the help of organisations such as the Lisbon-based Animalife, which has been fighting against abandonment since 2011.

What do pet owners ask for in the way of help?

Rodrigo Livreiro, the president of Animalife, admitted to being concerned about the current economic situation. He believes it is worsening the lives of the most needy families and could lead to an increase in cases of abandonment.

In the first half of the year alone, Animalife received ‘more than 4,000 requests for help’, revealed Livreiro He explained that many enquired about the mandatory electronic identification of cats, but there were also those looking for help to buy food for their animals or to carry out other veterinary procedures.

‘Part of these families struggle daily in extremely difficult conditions’, he continued. Livreiro highlighted the fact that the association tries to minimize the financial impact of having a pet. This is achieved by offering veterinary consultations or giving food to people in particularly vulnerable situations, such as the elderly, homeless, or victims of violence.

To the association, animals are seen as part of the family and therefore attention is given to both the animal and the owners. They are also offered specialised support as Animalife has created a Social-Animal Development Department.

Animalife currently supports 700 families with around 1,500 animals

This department is made up of a multidisciplinary team of Social Service and Medical-Veterinary professionals. Its objective is to find solutions aimed at monitoring both at a social and animal level.

The vaccination and electronic identification of animals are also included, along with assisting those with housing difficulties. These people can be referred to employment offices or given appointments related to the physical and mental health of families.

Animalife currently supports 700 families with around 1,500 animals. It has provided 1,094 social services and 756 prophylactic services this year alone, the president pointed out.

In the city of Lisbon, protocols have already been signed with most parish councils and, this week, it was the Lumiar Parish Council’s turn to join the project.

Ricardo Mexia, the president of the Junta do Lumiar, told Lusa that they had already received requests from citizens to have a service of this type.

‘We know that, unfortunately, many people are unable to provide the best health to their pets because they do not have the economic conditions to do so’. The mayor insisted that pets: ‘are often an important support for people’.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at