Bullfighting horseman finally faces trial for mistreatment of animals

The start of the trial of bullfighting horseman João Moura, charged on 18 counts of mistreatment of domestic animals, is scheduled for September 18, at Portalegre court, in the Alentejo – more than three years since the country was horrified by the appalling conditions in which he kept dozens of greyhounds.

Sources have told Lusa that the trial is scheduled for 9.30 am, in Portalegre’s Criminal Court, located within the city’s main court building.

Moura is charged with a total of 18 crimes – one for each greyhound removed by authorities. 17 of the charges are for mistreatment of a domestic animal; one is for aggravated mistreatment, as the severely debilitated dog could not be saved.

The bullfighting ‘legend’ was arrested by the National Republican Guard (GNR) in February 2020, on suspicion of animal mistreatment, following a heartbreaking search of his property in Monforte.

A GNR source said at the time said the actions followed an investigation by the force’s Nature and Environment Protection Service (SEPNA).

In the indictment, prosecutors describe the state of health of each of the 18 animals when they were seized. Some, they state, were thin or in “poor body condition”; others had “marked thinness” or were in “cachectic condition*” – among other classifications on a scale applied.

All the greyhounds had injuries or abrasions and infections caused by parasites, with some having diseases, without there being “any signs of treatment,” according to prosecutors.

A dog, aged almost 8, who “suffered from acute liver and kidney failure” in addition to presenting a “state of cachexia” and “deep cuts in the metacarpal area with no signs of healing,” sadly died on the day of the GNR operation.

Prosecutors added that, at very least, between December 2019 to February 19, 2020, João Moura “deprived the 18 animals of access to sufficient water and food, clean accommodation, any health and hygiene care, vaccination or deworming treatments.“

On the day of the police operation, the dogs were “confined in horse boxes, two to five animals per box, without any equipment or utensils for providing food or water.

“The spaces where they were housed had a large accumulation of excrement from many days” and the dogs “did not have a dry and soft space to rest, sleeping on the cement and on accumulated waste,” the statement read.

The prosecution concluded that Moura, instead of “providing health care, nutrition and hygiene” to the animals, “treated them cruelly, knowing that with his behaviour he caused them injuries, pain, hunger, thirst, discomfort and, as a result, suffering.”

This story rattled the nation which has become increasingly animal conscious over the last few decades. When the bullfighting fraternity led a homage to João Moura in August, 2021, almost 1,000 citizens turned up in protest.

Three years on, it is not a story easily forgotten.

The only ‘good news’ from this miserable episode involving a man lauded in the bullfighting world, is that every emaciated, terrified creature rescued by the GNR and volunteer animal protectors in 2020 has since been nurtured back to full health and rehomed to people who treasure them.