Belo Horizonte has just become the first Brazilian city to receive the IMVL – Instituto Médico Veterinário Legal (Forensic Medical Institute for Animals). The opening of the IMVL happened on October 1st.

The creation of a Forensic Medical Institute for animals is a milestone in the cause of animal rights in Brazil. According to data from the latest IBGE survey in 2018, the country is the second in the world with the largest number of pets, showing the existence of 139.3 million domestic animals: 54.2 million dogs, 39.8 million birds, 23.9 million cats, 19.1 million fish and 2.3 million other species (reptiles, amphibians and small mammals) – there are now more dogs and cats than children in Brazilian homes.

However, Brazil has never had an official institute regarding the evaluation and judgement of criminal cases related to animals.

The animal protection issue received a lot of attention from the media and the society in April 2020 after the case of Sansão, a dog from Confins (MG), that had both his hind legs cut off by a man who was neighbor to Sansão’s tutor. Back then, the animal protection association Patas Para Você started a campaign supported by celebrities as well as the general population. They managed, in a short period of time, to work on the approval of a bill in the Brazilian Senate (1095/19) and later, on the sanction of Lei Sansão (14.064/20) in September last year – the law increases the sentence from two to five years in prison for those accused of animal abuse, mistreatment, injuries or animal mutilation.

But for the law to be really enforced, it is fundamental that the police corporation have technical assistance, mainly from veterinarians, so that the classification of facts and analysis of evidence such as body injuries, intoxications, etc. can be more efficient. That is why the Forensic Medical Institute for Animals is being created. A public non-profit agency which includes clinical procedures, hospitalization, surgical procedures, medical examinations, necropsies and clinical pathology. The institute aims to support the Civil Police, Military Police, Municipal Guard, Public Ministry and all entities responsible for preventing and fighting animal crimes.

Upon arriving at the Institute, the animal will undergo a criminal body exam, receive first aid care and then it can be directed to a shelter if hospitalization is needed. In case of death, the Forensic Medical Institute for Animals will issue the report that is used as the guide for any kind of police investigation to enforce Lei Sansão.

The initiative of the IMVL in Brazil started from the animal protection association Patas Para Você, led by its president and philanthropist Alexandre Soares. The plan is to expand the project all over the country, through partnerships with city halls. Soares believes that “the purpose is innovative and it brings immeasurable progress to the animal cause. Finally, the animals will have the respect they deserve, with an appropriate institute, prepared to provide the necessary care for the victims and assistance for the investigation and punishment of those accused of any animal crimes.” 


The IMVL – Instituto Médico Veterinário Legal (Forensic Medical Institute for Animals) – of Belo Horizonte is a project developed by Patas Para Você and financed by the association itself in partnership with the City Hall of Belo Horizonte, which donated the container used as the headquarters of the IMVL, installed inside the Public Veterinarian Hospital of Belo Horizonte. The services offered by the Institute are not available to the general public; working exclusively according to the demand from partner entities or associations. 


Patas Para Você is a non-profit, animal welfare and protection association, which was founded in 2020 in the capital of São Paulo. The work performed by Patas Para Você is something unprecedent in Brazil because it works as an extremely important support for independent protectors offering special treatment to dogs in need. Each surgical procedure supported by the association counts on the best types of exams and the most qualified professionals. Patas Para Você has Alexandre Soares as a president and has helped more than 1,200 dogs. 


Since 2010, Alexandre Soares has acted as a philanthropist and in 2015 he retired to dedicate more of his time to social causes and the animal protection is one of his favorites. He had once been the main sponsor of institutions like Clube dos Vira-Latas (2015), Rancho dos Gnomos (2016), Ampara Animal (2016 to 2019) and Adote Um Coração (2019 and 2020). Alexandre Soares is also involved in major philanthropic causes around the world mostly through the Roger Federer Foundation – that has the mission of promoting the access to education and sport activities for underprivileged children – which he has been helping financially since 2010. 


One year ago, the brutal case of Sansão caused a huge backlash on social media. The dog, that had its hind legs cut off by a man in the city of Cofins (MG), became a symbol of the fight against animal abuse and mistreat. 

The on-line campaign promoted the creation of “Lei Sansão” based on the bill 1095/19 by Federal Legislator Fred Costa, which increases the sentence and the fine for animal offenders. Philanthropist Alexandre Soares became one of the biggest supporters of the law and dedicated all his efforts to promote the cause and warn people about the importance of the approval of proposed bill. 

The bill caught some legislators’ attention, including Davi Alcolumbre, the President of the Senate back then, and in the beginning of September last year, it was approved by the Brazilian Senate. On September 29th, twenty days after being approved, the bill (named Lei Sansão, a suggestion made by Alexandre Soares and taken by Representative Fred Costa) was sanctioned by President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasília during a ceremony at Palácio do Planalto. Sansão was a guest of honor and was accompanied by his patron Alexandre Soares and tutor Nathan Braga. It was a historical moment for animal lovers and protectors. 

The law named after Sansão increases the punishments for mistreat against domestic animals – detention ranged from 3 months to one year and a fine; now it ranges from 2 to 5 years and a fine


Since the horror suffered in July last year, when it had its hind legs cut off in an act of pure evil, Sansão has been through the best treatments available in the country, supported by patron Alexandre Soares.

The dog was given a second chance and even though there’s lot of suffering, it’s clearly enjoying every single moment of the new life. Through physical therapy sessions and a sequence of surgeries, Sansão is finally walking again thanks to a specially made prosthesis. It’s wholesome and truly heart-warming to see Sansão’s new life.