Campaigners want to free Portugal's tethered dogs

Dogs chained up in a yard, Portugal Image copyright Quebr'a Corrente
Image caption Tethered dogs are a frequent sight in rural Portugal

A new campaign is taking off in Portugal to free the thousands of dogs that spend their lives chained up in back yards.

Quebr'a Corrente (Break the Chain) aims to work with owners to make their outside spaces secure, so that animals can have the freedom to roam without the risk of running wild, the Jornal Postal do Algarve news site reports.

Tania Mesquita says she was inspired to start the movement - the first of its kind in the country - late last year, after seeing several unhappy dogs in her own part of central Portugal straining at chains that were never removed. "I just couldn't see them imprisoned," she told Publico newspaper.

Portuguese law bans keeping dogs permanently chained up, but Quebr'a Corrente says "it is still often the case in our country".

Image copyright Quebr'a Corrente
Image caption Four dogs chained up in one yard

A major reason is money. Ms Mesquita says poor families keep their animals in these conditions because they can't afford to care for them. "This doesn't mean the owners don't love their animals, so a philosophy of understanding without judging underpins all our actions," she adds.

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Quebr'a Corrente now operates nationwide and runs a series of local crowd funding sites to provide secure fencing so the dogs can be freed from their restraints.

Its 60 volunteers have so far put up secure fencing for 26 dogs, and rescued six that need medical care.

Animal welfare has been making the headlines in Portugal since the government banned local councils from killing stray dogs last month. They must now keep them in kennels, which has in turn raised concerns that cash-strapped dog owners may feel more inclined to abandon their pets.

Image copyright Quebr'a Corrente
Image caption The first taste of freedom

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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