The Director of Animal Welfare should be empowered to ban owners of confiscated pets from owning anymore pets, argues the new Commissioner for Animal Welfare, Alison Bezzina.
“I believe that once the director decides to confiscate animals, he/she should be given the right to ban the person from owning more animals until the court decides otherwise or confirms the decision,” Bezzina said at a press conference earlier today.
“At the moment that isn’t part of the remit of the director but I’m hoping we can change it and give the director that power,” she continued.
Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo, went a step further and suggested that anyone found guilty of animal abuse should be banned for life from owning any pets.
“Whoever is found guilty of the act, in my opinion, should be prevented from having any license or pets,” he said.
Under current Maltese legislation, those who are facing charges of alleged animal abuse aren’t prohibited from owning any other pets. Only the courts are able to decide if someone should be barred from owning any more pets – a judgement handed out sporadically and unevenly.
As it stands, Andre Galea, the owner of two dogs who attacked and killed his own grandmother last September, is awaiting trial for the horrific incident and is expected to be arraigned next month.
Galea, a known backyard breeder, housed dogs on his roof in cement cubicles and has since adopted more dogs since the horrific incident, despite initially surrendering most of his pets to an animal activist.
“The issue with this particular case, as far as I know, Galea was never accused of anything to do with breaching the Animal Welfare Act. The accusations against him are different,” Bezzina continued.
Galea is expected to face charges of involuntary homicide but his case drew widespread criticism on the operations of Animal Welfare which failed to act on multiple animal abuse reports filed against Galea for over a year before the incident.
“If the Animal Welfare Director does confiscate an animal, it is usually taken very seriously. They confiscate animals after a lot of thought and if the dogs/cats are in a really bad situation,” Bezzina said.
The Animal Welfare department is currently in the process of choosing a new director after the former director, Noel Montebello, was appointed Director-General of the public abattoir.
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