Since announcing the ‘Adopt a Pet Allowance’, Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri, along with the rest of his department, has come under considerable scrutiny by animal lovers.
The offer of a €150 bonus to people who adopt a stray dog or cat from a licensed NGO or shelter has been seen as something that would encourage people to adopt pets for the wrong reasons and abandon them in the streets as soon as they’ve cashed in their free money.
However, if one looks more closely, the scheme, while far from being any type of salve for Malta’s stray dog problem, could actually be effective to improve the welfare of rescued animals.
Firstly, the €150 you’ll receive from the scheme won’t be handed to you until six months after adoption. During this period, Animal Welfare officers can, and will, make spot checks at the adopted homes to make sure the animal is receiving adequate attention and care.
There’s a widespread misconception circulation spreading over social media that spot checks will be carried out after six months, which is not the case. In actual fact, spot checks will happen during the first six months of adoption, which means the animal will have to be taken care of properly to be eligible for the financial incentive at the end.
Spot checks are just one of many criteria that have to be met before you are eligible for €150. In addition, if you are adopting a cat or dog older than four months, it is your responsibility and duty to neuter and microchip it, meaning that you will be held fully accountable if it ends up on the street again – even after the initial six months.
But let’s backtrack a bit. Is €150 really enough to incentive someone to adopt a dog just for the financial gain?
The answer is no. Owning a pet isn’t cheap and the average monthly cost of owning a dog or cat can range anywhere between €100 to €300 meaning that you’ll spend at least €600 to €1800 taking care of your adopted pet over six months. Even if you had upkeep of only €50 per month, maintaining a pet would cost you double than the €150 you’d receive after six months.
Basically, the financial cost of taking care of an adopted animal for six months greatly outweighs the financial gain… and you’ll only get that if you meet the other criteria as well.
People have also joked about adopting multiple dogs to receive more allowance, but the fine print won’t let you. It’s one dog per person, two per household.
Essentially, there’s a whole criterion that needs to be met before you see a penny, which will deter anyone looking to adopt a pet for financial gain.
Whatever happened to ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’?
The ‘Adopt A Pet Allowance’ is meant to encourage people to adopt pets instead of buying them off backstreet breeders who abuse and use their pets for financial gain.
It may not be the most effective way to get people to adopt pets, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Sanctuaries are overwhelmed with the number of stray dogs they receive and this scheme will hopefully help alleviate that burden by turning people’s attention to these animals instead of going directly to a breeder.
Only time will tell if this scheme proves to be effective in relieving the burden from animal sanctuaries but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and it deserves to be applauded, and not crucified all over social media before it’s even given a chance.