In an interview with the Barlavento newspaper, the mayor of Olhão has responded to the accusations of the People-Animals-Nature (PAN) party over controversy that arose at a public town hall meeting of the Municipal Assembly of Olhão on December 19th of 2019.
Alexandre Pereira, an Olhão citizen, during the Q&A period reserved for the public questioned the mayor, António Miguel Pina, over the whereabouts of the malnourished horses that the municipality had saved a few days prior, as well as animal welfare in the county as a whole. PAN alleged that the mayor had refused to answer the citizen’s questions.
The allegations arose on Monday, January 6th, when PAN issued a press release accusing the mayor of Olhão of refusing to answer the questions and referring to animal welfare as a background issue. A position that Antonio Miguel Pina refutes in his interview with the Barlavento.
“Did a PAN person come to the meeting, or did a citizen come? I don't understand how PAN wants to be represented in the public space. I asked directly if he was representing PAN and he replied that he was a citizen. In municipal assemblies, the time reserved for the public is for people to raise their problems. The time is not used to discuss with the mayor the topics related to animals”, says the mayor.
Antonio Miguel Pina continued, staying that: “Regarding the matters that Mr. Alexandre put forward, which had already been put forward in the previous meeting, I had nothing more to add than what I told him at the previous meeting, but I am available to have a meeting with him or PAN.” Since the interview was conducted yesterday, Barlavento have confirmed that there has been no request for meeting from PAN which has been sent to the Olhão City Council.
The mayor has also said that since the beginning of his term, he has never had any meeting request whatsoever from the party.
"No. This is perhaps the third time they have called me out at the Municipal Assembly and then a press release from the PAN comes out” he added. “Come talk to me about animal welfare and the concerns you have. I want to warn people who value the animal cause that what Alexandre Pereira has done is deception.”
The mayor also considers PAN’s accusations to be unfair, as he believes that Olhão has pioneered the creation of regulations in this area, stating that “if there is a municipality in the Algarve that always advocated this action for saving horses, it was Olhão. We were the first to create a regional grazing regulation in partnership with the Veterinary Services in 2014, when this issue began. We were also the first to have an answer, which has even been studied by other municipalities, in the way we are organized to collect the animals.”
He went on to explain the details of how the municipality rescues neglected horses, answering a set of questions which PAN had included in its press release regarding the specifics of the procedure: “Firefighters are the first force for the collection of animals. We have trained men and bought horseboxes for transportation. When an abandoned or unattended animal is detected in an unauthorized public or private space, a response is triggered on the ground. Our fire services or Civil Protection services are accompanied by security forces, because conflict can arise."
Currently, it has been revealed that the rescued horses are provisionally kept in a small stable inside the municipal yard, where they spend a maximum of 24 hours. At the end of this period, they are delivered to the care of a certified veterinarian in the western Algarve, who provides care services to the municipality. If claimed in five days, we pay a daily value for the stay of the animal 'which in this case represents another expense for the municipality. From January to December 2019, 81 horses were collected by the municipality of Olhão.
"Without this system, neglected, mistreated or non-compliant animals could not be recovered and treated," he concluded.