The Malta Independent 16 July 2019, Tuesday

Euthanized Valletta cat controversy: Veterinary association reacts to ‘inaccurate’ statements

Saturday, 4 June 2016, 12:20 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Malta Veterinary Association has reacted to “inaccurate” statements made by the authorities in light of the ongoing controversy surrounding the euthanasia of Masha, the elderly cat from Valletta. 

The cat that lived in Valletta utilities box for some 18 years was recently put down by the Animal Welfare Department. The AWD says police found the cat lying on the ground, paralysed, after having been run over by a car. Her spine was broken and she was suffering from a multitude of conditions. But residents insist that the cat was in good health and have insisted that this was a case of “murder by a cruel animal welfre system.”

“The Malta Veterinary Association (MVA) wishes to comment on the recent controversy surrounding the euthanasia of Masha, the cat from Valletta, and to correct some inaccurate statements made by the authorities.

Mr Emmanuel Buhagiar, Commissioner for Animal Welfare stated that there is no database containing the details of microchipped cats.  This is absolutely not correct.  In 2001, MVA set up a database for microchipped Dogs and Cats.  In 2011, the government took over the Dogs database, but declined to take over the one holding the details of Cats.  However, the Cat database is still being maintained by MVA and continues to be kept up to date.  So, all cat owners who have paid their vet to microchip their pet(s) can rest assured: the details of their pets are safe in our database.

There has been much made of the wording of the Triage document that has recently come to light in connection with this case.  In the first place, the Triage document was formulated to provide guidelines because it would be totally impractical for the merits of each welfare case to be debated individually.  Secondly, that Triage document was meant solely for the onlytwo veterinary practices that are standing in for Ċentru San Frangisk during the period of its closure, and the ‘conditions’ under which euthanasia was to be carried out apply only to cases presented at these two clinics by Animal Welfare Officers(AWOs).

One must always bear in mind that the client – in this case, the Animal Welfare Department (AWD) – must also have some say as to what treatments will be funded.  This is no different from private practice, when owners are frequently faced with the tough decision to opt either for treatment that may be very expensive (and have no guarantee of success) or to end their sick pet’s suffering.   Economics, unfortunately, plays a major role and, with a limited budget and an unknown number of welfare cases to fund in the year ahead, it is, regrettably, incumbent upon AWD to allocate its funds prudently.” 

The statement was signed by Dr Charmaine Xuereb, President of the Malta Veterinary Association.

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