OPINION: They Deserve Much Better

One of the dogs rescued from Birzebbugia yesterday and her pups, now awaiting fostering in loving homes.

In the space of only a few weeks, we have had another case of an individual who has been rammed by the Animal Welfare Department and the Police for keeping animals in a state of abandonment and ill-treatment, that amounts to nothing short of sheer cruelty.  All credit goes to the authorities for acting on the reports about this blatant breaking of the laws against cruelty to animals, and who have proceeded against the individual in terms of what Maltese laws provide.

Ok, so he ended up receiving his dues according to the law. But the question will remain hanging on the nation’s head… will that suffice to put a complete full stop to such ill-treatment of animals in Malta?  Many sincerely doubt whether this will be so, and the discussion is ripe out there in the country about basically two things:

  • firstly, whether it is time for a yet once again review of the fines and punishments that the present laws provide for, and
  • secondly, whether there should be much stricter regulating of practically everything that has to do with the keeping of even the smallest of animals in our society.

Theorists who study and research deeply about regulation will tell you that there is always a time and a place for escalating precisely such regulations. If, for example, the simplest keeping of a dog, or cat, or even a simple budgerigar, in the house were to become the subject of licensing what would be the benefits and disadvantages that would ensure? Certainly, government coffers would benefit from such licensing fees, but would it put a stop to the many individuals who beget kittens and pups in their homes and then abandon them in the streets when they become a cumbersome addendum to their house in terms of space, feeding, caring and grooming?

There are ways and means of getting around such problems and it should not be beyond any legislator’s creativity to legislate in such a manner as will make people wake up to their responsibilities – and liabilities – under the laws existing for the protection of animals.  

The truth also includes the fact that animals, whilst potentially being the source of much merriment, love, and indeed sometimes also therapeutic benefit, to individuals in various circumstances, can also be a source of bother, anger stimulation, and cause of conflicts. Take the case of those “characters” who are often leaving food – and not necessarily pet foods of any real quality – in places where they know that cats, or dogs, gather for their daily nourishments.  Such animals gathering in people’s front gardens or yards or on pavements often end up leaving such places smelly and dirty. Many early morning dog walkers also need to be subjected to more regulation in places like Naxxar, Birkirkara, San Pawl tat-Targa, Qawra, and the Marsascala waterfront, just to mention a few places.

Never again must we see such pictures of emaciated animals (dogs, horses, and whatever) like the ones seen recently in our media. There is also a serious need for owners and managers of formally permitted animal sanctuaries in Malta to band together more and become a more unified, forceful and organized lobby with the government in the direction of some of the ideals which have been outlined above.

What is undoubtedly fact is that the recent discoveries by our Animal Welfare and Police authorities are a clear indication that there is much that is not well or correct in this facet of our country’s life. Animals, all animals, need to be treated much better.