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Anger in Portugal over police crackdown on fire in asylum

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:01

Anger at keeping rescuers away from burning shelter, 52 dogs and 2 cats dead, 190 animals rescued. (update below the article)

In Portugal, great commotion has arisen because the National Police, the GNR, are said to have stopped people who wanted to help rescue dogs at Cantinho 4 Patas animal shelter in Santo Tirso, a village in the north of the country. A forest fire was forced to the shelter and the buildings caught fire. Dozens of animals have died and some have been rescued. Several dozen people gathered directly at the fire until about 4 p.m., when a group decided to cross the police barrier and raid the enclosure to save the living animals. The intervention force quickly blocked access again, causing a wave of rebellion.

Even before the fire reached shelter, Amaral called for help. “FIRE is 100 meters from the shelter of Ermelinda and Alexandra !!!! Just spoke to the Santo Tirso volunteer fire department, they have already mobilized the means they could but it's about to give - if a disgrace !!!!! Whoever is around PLEASE animals must be released !!!! What impotence, what a country is ours that waited for the worst without ever taking action !!! These animals lived in hell, year after year ... it's not fair !!!!!
Can anyone in the area help ??? I'm not sure how ... I think all passages are forbidden !!!

The GNR said in a statement today that people were stopped because it was a private property. Moreover, the rescuers would only have come after the fire was extinguished, and the living animals still present had been rescued. That so many animals died due to the size of the fire and the large number of animals that were present.

But according to many reactions on social media, that is nonsense, and there are plenty of videos and photos that show that the buildings are still burning, and that there are (live) animals in the buildings. "Everything's on fire, they say everything's okay, but it has dead animals in it," Carla Amaral, who started the story, said in a Facebook post about the situation.

“I can't react, I have no tears to cry. I just wanted to thank the lots of people who didn't leave the scene until late hours of the morning, hoping to help and save some lives.Dozens of animals have been consumed by flames, charred bodies in both shelters, authorities with a shameful stance, clearly covering up those responsible, which has been happening over the years. Municipal vet didn't even dignify showing up. ” she writes on Facebook today. The GNR is said to have beaten the population who came to help and threatened with arrests. According to the GNR, the animal shelter had been in contact with the court before, Carla Amaral says that she has been threatened for years. On Facebook there are now also reactions that the dogs were poorly cared for at this shelter, and that it was a "criminal" club, not a real shelter. "Animals up to their waist in the dirt, animals attached to barrels etc .." Other reports are about an illegal bread breeder of purebred dogs, who used the shelter as a cover. According to that source, the images of the surviving dogs no longer show purebred dogs, and the administrators, mother and daughter, are said to have close ties with the Chamber of Commerce in Santo Tirso.

The municipality of Santo Tirso has also responded in the meantime. For example, the shelter would indeed not have complied with safety regulations for the reception of the animals, which made rescue difficult.

People who tried to help were "excluded from the shelters by both the city council and the municipal vet and by the owners."

During the publication, Carla states that elements of the PAN were also present, but that no one was allowed to enter the building.

The PAN, the counterpart of the Dutch Party for the Animals, is furious and today called for a change in the law in Portugal. On its official page on Facebook, the party says it is monitoring the situation on the ground and accuses the authorities of making it difficult to free the animals that are still alive from the kennels. "Dozens of citizens, non-governmental organizations and animal welfare organizations immediately offered to provide all necessary assistance, although they were blocked by both the city council and the municipal veterinarian and by the owners of the shelters," the party said.

A second shelter has now also been hit by the fire. The owner has granted rescue teams from the IRA (Intervenção e Resgate Animal) access, the animals have now all been taken there.

"We continue to provide medical veterinary assistance to animals injured by flames and smoke inhalation, with the Portuguese Search and Rescue Association, in another nearby 

shelter whose owner has authorized access to rescue teams, "said the IRA.

An investigation is currently being conducted by the municipal vet into the events in Cantinho 4 Patas.

An online petition for "justice for the lack of assistance to the animals in the kennel in Santo Tirso" has already collected over 65,500 signatures.

The online petition states that GNR agents and the landowner, located in Serra da Agrela, in Santo Tirso, "prevented the animals from being rescued and deprived of aid while they could still be rescued," adding about 150 animals lived in the kennel.

Update July 20
According to the statement from the municipality of Santo Tirso, a total of 190 live animals were relocated from the two affected shelters.

Of these, 113 animals were housed in municipal kennels and organizations, and the remaining 77 were housed by private individuals.

The municipality also announced that Santo Tirso will pay for the vaccination and sterilization of animals. In cooperation with the GNR, an attempt will be made on Monday to locate other animals around the two animal shelters in the parish of Agrela ”. As for the animals that died as a result of the fire, the municipality of Santo Tirso collected the bodies that were transferred to PET Nordeste. The Santo Tirso Municipality ends the statement by expressing regret at the death of the animals in Agrela's shelter and offering to contribute to investigate all circumstances surrounding all the facts that have occurred. The IRA is now collecting food for the rescued dogs.

However, more and more information about the shelters is also being published. Several dog bodies were found in a refrigerator that were there before the fire. Reportedly, the dogs would raise 500 euros if registered with the insurance. The mother and daughter would also have not one, but several shelters, all with poorly groomed dogs. People also ask why the owners did not open the kennels themselves so that the dogs could at least leave, the fire was already well ahead of that time, as is also apparent from Amaral's appeal. Some animals that had previously been reported as stolen were also found to have an identifiable chip, including a dog that had been missing for two years. It would also have been not only the police, but also the owner who kept civilians from the site helping people. Both owners risk a 2-year prison sentence for abandoning the animals. How correct this information is is unknown.

Photos: Carla Amaral (Facebook), IRA (Facebook)