A new legal status acknowledging animals as “living, feeling beings deserving of legal protection” has been published in the Government Gazette and means that, as of 1 May, they will no longer been seen by the law as “things.”
It alters the current Civil Code, under which animals were seen as “things”, and is the result of bills pushed by the PS, PAN, PSD and BE parties, approved in Parliament last year, on 22 December.
The new law also addresses pets’ well-being in family environments, stating that the animal in question should be “entrusted to one or both spouses, taking into account, in particular, the interests of each of the spouses and children and also the welfare of the animal.”
Changes are further made to the types of punishment for those who mistreat animals: “Whoever attacks or kills an animal shall be obliged to compensate the owner or the individuals or entities that came to its aid for the expenses they incurred in their treatment.”
Compensation is payable even if “the expenses are more than the monetary value that can be attributed to the animal.”
Stealing an animal becomes punishable with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine, as does illegitimate possession of an animal. The diploma further states that the owner of an animal must ensure its welfare and respect the characteristics of each species.
The law was endorsed by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on 23 of January, before being published in the Government Gazette last week.