The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

No criminal action on Fgura animal cruelty case

Albert Galea Thursday, 14 March 2019, 10:03 Last update: about 3 months ago

No criminal action is being taken in the animal cruelty case involving a dairy farm in Fgura, images of which were brought to light last week, Environment Minister Jose Herrera said in Parliament.

Herrera was asked by PN MP Mario Galea whether criminal action had been taken against the owners of the farm on charges of alleged animal cruelty, what steps were being taken to make sure that the animals are not left suffering in these neglected conditions, and when the last inspection on the farm was conducted by the directorate.

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In response, Herrera said that the Veterinary Regulation Directorate (VRD) had gone to the farm on the day the images came to light – that being 7 March – and also the in August and December 2018, when a written warning for things to be rectified had been put forward.

Herrera said that the VRD felt that, considering the circumstances of the case and the fact that main operator of the farm had recently passed away leaving the heirs with certain difficulties, criminal action should not be the direction taken at this stage.

The Environment Minister also said that the VRD had imposed certain conditions which have to be implemented by the end of the month at most. These conditions are namely that a vet is brought to treat the animals and help the heirs plan out the future of the farm, that every material on the farm that could cause undue suffering to the animals is immediately removed, that the manure being stored where the animals reside is removed immediately, that the ground where all animals have access to are arranged to avoid risks of slipping; and that a plan of action for the reduction of the amount of animals at the farm.

The case had been brought to the attention of the country after pressure group Animal Liberation Malta uploaded shocking images of the neglect that the animals were facing.

The group said it had witnessed pain, suffering and abuse at the site, including a cow whose legs were tied together due to a damaged pelvis and other sick animals that were being kept in inadequate conditions.

In a separate parliamentary question tabled on Monday, Herrera revealed that four people had been taken to court on charges of animal cruelty so far this year.  12 were taken to court in 2018; 14 in 2017; 11 in 2016; and nine in 2015.

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