The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

‘Animal abusers can no longer get away with such cruelty’ – animal rights activist

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 6 August 2019, 08:45 Last update: about 5 months ago

Two cases of animal abuse hit the headlines last week, both of which shocked the public, and animal rights activist Alison Bezzina highlights the need to stop such situations from occurring.

The first saw a man killed the family pet Chihuahua when he slammed the dog against a bedside table in the presence of police officers.  The second incident was when a stray dog named Scotty was found with 200 fragments of lead pellets inside his body, which resulted from shots fired from very close range.

Earlier in July, two kittens were found dismembered in Paola where the only parts of the animals left intact were the heads and paws. In another incident a dog Percy was found in a skip fighting for his life.

The Malta Independent contacted animal rights activist Alison Bezzina regarding the current animal abuse cases and asked her what she believes can be done. She is also the author of “I will not go Away - Alison Bezzina”, a blog which is dedicated to highlighting the importance of animal welfare.

“Animal cruelty and abuse will always exists, but like other crimes, the frequency can be reduced when people see that they cannot simply get away with such behaviour,” Bezzina explained. She said that unfortunately, when it comes to animal abuse the message that people are likely to ‘get away with’ such abuses remains; either because police don’t pursue the case or as when they do, the court is lenient with the perpetrators.

She said that she would report on average five cases of potential animal abuse to Animal Welfare. “Four out of five times, Animal Welfare would say that no abuse or neglect was found. The reason behind this is because the Animal Welfare act is interpreted in its bare minimum; as long as the dog has shelter, food and water then all is fine.” She also mentioned that although the law is clear in cases of chained dogs, hardly anyone is taken to court, instead they are simply told off.

Speaking about Scotty, the dog found with hundreds of lead pellets, Alison explained that the 200 pellets found in dogs body were caused by a hunter’s rifle. “If it truly was a hunter, he would know how to use the rifle well, and it is unlikely that the perpetrator would want to kill the dog, which is even worse because it was either done for fun or for some other reason.”

She has also been keeping a close eye on the case of Percy, a dog who was dumped in a skip in Marsa back in July and has had his leg amputated. So far there is still no information about what actually happened to him. Percy was found in Marsa, in a highly surveyed area, where only a handful of people enter on a daily basis and there are security personnel on guard day and night, yet still no news of the culprit has surfaced.  “So far I still don’t have an update as to whether the CCTV footage has been secured.”

 

Adopting a dog: a worthy commitment

The conversation turned to adopting stray and shelter dogs, and how many stray from the idea as it is portrayed as being a major commitment. “Adopting a shelter dog can truly be a commitment; we make it up to be worse than it actually is. There are dogs living their lives in small spaces with many other dogs and do not get that much human contact. They are confined to their small space.” She said that whilst commitment plays an important part in the decision to adopt, if one can offer a dog a couple of walks a day, good food, medicine and some affection, the chances are they will be 100 per cent better than in any shelter.

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