A Step Closer To Kill Shelters? Lack Of Resources Forces Animal Welfare Into Inaction On Abuse Cases

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The Malta Animal Welfare Department has run out of space to house animals and is currently unable to take action on known cases of animal abuse.

Animal rights commissioner Alison Besina warned last summer that killing shelters could become a reality unless Malta works together and begins managing the animal population on the island seriously.

The Commissioner has listed several key actions that the country should take to avoid this reality, and while some progress has been recorded, the fact remains that the Directorate – the main entity overseeing animal welfare in Malta – remains severely under-resourced.

Over the past few weeks, many animal shelters have appealed to the public to adopt dogs from them because they are unable to handle the number of stray animals they receive. The Department of Animal Rights has also published pet profiles in the hope that they will be adopted.

The Animal Welfare Department has in recent weeks carried out several confiscations of dogs from illegal puppy mills, and owners who were found not to be cared for by the courts.

Since then, some of these dogs have been moved back to their native habitat, but the majority remain in the care of the department. While the increased enforcement is commendable, it has also left the directorate unable to absorb more, and therefore unable to deal with known cases of animal abuse.

unsustainable condition

Animal rights activist Moira Delia Lovin told Malta of one case, already reported on this site, involving a number of cactus dogs. Dogs live with their owner who, for one reason or another, cannot take care of them properly.

In fact, many of his dogs had already been taken over by the directorate, which would also take up the rest were it not for the fact that there is nowhere to house them.

“We will be taking some food for their owner as he is not in a position to feed them, but that is not sustainable,” Delia said, adding that photos of the dog had been sent to her with an urgent plea for help.

“Something has to be done right away because these dogs can’t stay put. Not to mention all the puppy mills and other cases out there.”

“We know the pens are full, mainly because the current manager and her team are doing such a good job of tracking down the backyard breeders. This is all the more reason to give them more resources.”

Dalia insisted that the directorate is doing everything it can, given the circumstances, but stressed the need for serious government investment to ensure the directorate’s ability to do its job.

A similar incident was reported to Lovin Malta yesterday when Romina Freindo, an animal rights activist and volunteer, said she was unable to get animal care to confiscate a severely malnourished dog.

She also emphasized the need for Malta to have proper breeding regulations, as the authorities, as currently the case, have little power over the industry.

Frendo stressed that the directorate could be given all the space and resources in the world, but the country would still face the same problem without controlling the number of animals brought into the world.

Some dogs were seized by the directorate while others were left behind

Some dogs were seized by the directorate while others were left behind

A lack of resources has been reported in the investigation

The issue of the directorate’s under-resources is by no means new, and was made quite clear in a recent investigation commissioned by the Commissioner for Animal Welfare, into allegations that the directorate was arbitrarily killing dogs.

The investigation found that this was not in fact the case, but it was striking that, while the very wide cross-section of stakeholders consulted did not agree on some points, they were all categorical in stating that the Directorate was severely under-resourced.

All volunteers, activists and witnesses agreed [the directorate] It lacks resources in both space, equipment and mostly human resources. However, most of the volunteers also agreed that the dogs are being treated well and taken care of in the best possible way given the resources and the current situation,” the report concluded.

One of the witnesses said, “The directorate’s resources need to be reconsidered and significantly increased.”

“All employees were in agreement with the decisions made and felt at peace in light of the existing resources in [directorate]Another said of the decision to euthanize aggressive dogs, “Euthanasia was the gentler choice.”

The report is full of references to the directorate’s lack of resources, but it seems unlikely that this will change any time soon.

In her warning, Bezina called for a national neutering campaign as well as stricter controls on breeders and enforcement of the requirement that pets be equipped with an electronic chip, as well as the urgent need for an education campaign to educate people about responsibility. animal ownership.

To be fair to the authorities, we’ve had action on many of these fronts. We’ve seen numerous court rulings against people convicted of animal abuse, as well as enforcement regarding illegal breeders and budget allocation for a national neutering campaign.

Besina also recently said that LESA officials will soon be equipped with a chip reader and the ability to screen dogs, making the verification process considerably easier.

The budget will also see funds allocated “to explore the feasibility of establishing a re-house” as well as toward the development of a national animal welfare strategy.

However, no budget allocations will be made to enhance animal welfare management, although sources have indicated that there may be some additional resources that will be made available to the directorate next year.

Lovin Malta has reached out to Animal Welfare Director Patricia Azopardi for comment and is awaiting a response.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Animal Rights said it was “aware of the situation at the Directorate of Animal Welfare and offers its continued support”.

“The ministry will soon launch an educational campaign to encourage neutering and shipping pets, while promoting the adoption of dogs and cats currently in the Directorate of Animal Welfare during the month of December. An event to promote adoptions will be announced soon, to be held in January.”

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Yannick joined Lovin Malta in March 2021 after starting journalism in 2016. He is passionate about politics, the way our society is run, and anything to do with numbers and charts. He loves dogs more than he loves people.

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