The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Tender for construction of pet cemetery to be issued in coming months

Shona Berger Monday, 28 September 2020, 07:38 Last update: about 25 days ago

The tender for the construction of a pet cemetery is currently being vetted by the Department of Contracts, for it to be issued in the coming months, Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo told the Malta Independent.

Back in 2019, former Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Clint Camilleri had confirmed that the government will step in on the matter, as the private sector had not shown much interest in developing a pet cemetery. The government had also said that the development of such a cemetery will be combined with a rehoming centre.

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The government considered at the time that, since the private sector was not interested in developing it, the government might enter into a partnership with NGOs that would be interested in managing the pet cemetery, in order to make good on its electoral promise.

When asked about the timeframes for the project, Minister Refalo said that the allocation of land for a national pet cemetery was approved by the Lands Authority earlier this year and the executable permit has also been issued.

Discussions are also presently ongoing with an NGO that is already offering cremation services, he said.  

The Island Sanctuary Malta (NGO), which caters for the needs of stray and abandoned dogs in the country, informed this newsroom that the government had told the sanctuary that it would like to develop a pet cemetery, however “there are no concrete plans for such a development. Currently, the sanctuary solely takes care of the cremation service.”

The Covid-19 situation has, given the economic impact of the virus, raised some questions as to whether such a project, in the end, will actually go through.

Animal rights activists Alison Bezzina and Moira Delia expressed their belief that, if the government were to be in a situation where it had to choose between developing a pet cemetery or developing a rehoming centre due to economic constraints, the priority should definitely be given to the rehoming centre.

Bezzina explained her point of view and said that “with our current economic situation, it shouldn’t be one or the other because it can be both – a pet cemetery and a rehoming centre. However, if the government needs to make a decision between the two, the pet cemetery should come second. Priority shouldn’t be given to something dead, but we should be more focused on helping animals that are alive and truly need all the help they can get.”

She added that, as an animal activist who always seeks to put animals first, “although having a pet cemetery is very important, it won’t be beneficial for the animals, but rather would be for the pet lovers, as the animals are dead at that point.”

Animal rights activist and TV presenter Moira Delia said that she is against the pet cemetery.

Delia explained that many studies have been carried out on whether the development of a pet cemetery is sustainable or viable for a company that is willing to take on board such a development. When looking at the situation long-term, these studies have proven that a pet cemetery is not viable, she explained.

She expressed her belief that “each time we face a general election in this country, many politicians try to gain a number of votes by suggesting the development of the pet cemetery.”

“It is very clear by now that this will never be done because it is impossible,” she said.

Delia added that, when looking at the running cost year-to-year for such a project, it is rather high. She said that the cemetery is more something that would be done for pet owners than animals themselves, and therefore should not be a priority.

“So much more attention and funding are needed when it comes to sanctuaries in order to further improve them,” she said.

“Although a pet cemetery is important, there are so many other things that need to be given priority when it comes to helping animals; animals that are alive.”

 

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