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Characterization of Suspected Crimes against Companion Animals in Portugal

By D. Araújo, C. Lima, J. R. Mesquita, I. Amorim, C. Ochôa

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Animal crimes are a widespread phenomenon with serious implications for animal welfare, individual well-being and for society in general. These crimes are universal and represent a major problem in human/animal interaction. In Portugal, current law 69/2014 criminalizes the mistreatment and abandonment of companion animals. This study characterizes forensic cases received at the Laboratory of Pathology of the National Institute of Agrarian and Veterinary Investigation (Vairão) since the enforcement of the aforementioned legislation. A retrospective study was carried out based on the consult of 160 data files of forensic necropsies from 127 dogs and 33 cats. Necropsies confirmed prior crime suspicion in 38 cases (24%), from which 33 were dogs and five were cats. Among confirmed cases, most of assaulted animals were medium-size (57%), crossbreed (55%) male (58%) dogs (87%), which were the victims of blunt force trauma (31%), firearms (27%), poisoning (27%) and asphyxiation (15%). In cats, most of the assaulted animals were juvenile (60%) females (60%) of unknown breed (40%), which suffered blunt force trauma (100%) as the only cause of death. The present study shows that violence against animals is a reality, and complaints about these crimes are gradually increasing due to the population's raising awareness about animal rights. Greater communication and coordination between clinicians, veterinary pathologists, and law enforcement officers are essential to validate and legally support these cases and subject them to trial.

Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 11
Issue 9
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani11092744
Author Address Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar (ICBAS), Universidade do Porto (UP), Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, Rua dos Lagidos, Lugar da Madalena, 4485-655 Vairão, Portugal.Epidemiology Research Unit (EPIUnit), Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto, Rua das Taipas 135, 4050-600 Porto, Portugal.i3S-Instituto de Investigação e Inovação da Universidade do Porto, Rua Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal abuse
  2. Cats
  3. Dogs
  4. open access
  5. Veterinary forensic medicine.
  1. open access