The Malta Independent 19 April 2021, Monday

TMID Editorial: Animal welfare - Safeguarding our companions

Tuesday, 30 March 2021, 09:51 Last update: about 20 days ago

A new amendment to the Animal Welfare Act will make it so that pet-owners who have abused their pets will not be able own animals or live with animals.

This announcement was made last Friday, by Minister of Justice Edward Zammit Lewis.

The amendment will effectively give power to magistrates to prohibit those guilty of animal abuse from owning animals to ensure that pets are protected from abuse in the future.

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While most of us do love our furry friends, be them dogs, cats, hamsters or even other kinds of animals such as lizards and snakes, there are a few out there who just are not meant to be animal owners.

For while those who purposely harm animals are the obvious ones who should not be allowed to own pets, there are other instances through which pets suffer. One example, is neglect.

We’ve all heard stories about Animal Welfare officials rescuing animals from their abusive masters, or about good Samaritans finding abandoned dogs and cats in a poor state of health. It’s about time that something is done about this, and this legal amendment is a step in the right direction.

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina praised the amendment, calling it crucial. It will, aside from the obvious effects, possibly act as a deterrent to those who currently abuse animals, perhaps leading to them changing their ways.

She explained that the amendment will grant animals the following liberties: Liberty for food and drink, liberty from discomfort, liberty from pain and sickness, liberty to express natural behaviour and liberty from harm and fear.

The Animal Welfare Commissioner has also made certain recommendations to be put into force until this amendment becomes law. She put forward a recommendation to Animal Welfare so that anyone who is reported abusing an animal will be approached by an Animal Welfare representative and have the animal taken away from them. “Until the individual is taken to court, they will not be allowed to be in possession of any animals.” Bezzina hopes that the recommendation is approved to safeguard any animals in danger.

She also highlighted that a large portion of this process lies in the hands of the general public to report any instances of mistreatment or suspicion to Animal Welfare.  “We will need the help of the public to enforce this fully. The public needs to inform Animal Welfare if there has been a breach of an animal’s safety”, Bezzina said.

And the latter part has been and still is true. Reporting abuse of animals is the right thing to do.

We as a society must not tolerate abuse of animals, and must come together to protect them.

In addition, something else must be said. When opting to purchase, or better yet adopt, a pet, one must understand that this comes with a great deal of responsibility. Think before doing so. Do I have time to care for the pet? Do I have the finances required? Do I have the patience? Do not buy or adopt a pet on a whim, and think about all of these things first.

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