An animal rights activist has been forced to house and personally negotiate the release of an abused dog because of a lack of legislation regulating the practice in Malta.
Romina Frendo, a founding member and Secretary-General of Real Animal Rights (RAR Malta) as well as the chair of Malta’s Animal Welfare Council, recounted how she recently saw a Facebook ad for a pregnant female pitbull.
“This dog looked like it was in some junkyard, with nothing but concrete and metal around it. I acted on impulse and told him I’d buy the dog” Frendo told Lovin Malta.
Having already spent €300 to buy the dog from the man, she took her to the vet for a check-up, only to be told that she wasn’t pregnant and had in fact had her puppies roughly two months prior.
“When I went back and asked him where the puppies were he continued to insist that she was pregnant. I can’t say for certain but I suspect they were sold,” she said.
It was at this point that the man she was dealing with told her that he had another dog that he would give her for another €100.
“He warned me that she was in a very bad state and I immediately asked to see her, but he said he didn’t have the key to where she was. We arranged to meet the following Tuesday,” she said.
The release was secured after an Animal Welfare officer inspection during which the breeder did not reveal the dog’s whereabouts.
“He denied having another dog until I threatened to call the police,” Frendo said. “Animal Welfare finally convinced him to admit the dog existed and that he needed to hand her over to me by that evening, which he did.”
“She was a truly pitiful sight. You could literally count all of her ribs. She was a walking skeleton and could hardly get into the car. She was clearly used for breeding.”
Frendo said that the dog had stolen her heart and she in fact named her ‘Albi’.
“She was so weak and tired that about an hour after I put her on the bed – probably the first soft surface she was ever on – I went next to her and I noticed she was trying to wag her tail but couldn’t. Imagine a dog so weak and hungry that it can’t even wag its tail.”
The activist had just found herself having adopted two pit bull dogs, with all of the expenses that entails. All because of a Facebook post, and a confluence of other factors which have rendered the country into one that generates, and is unable to deal with, a large number of animals in desperate need of care.
The fact that Frendo – the chair of a body that advises the government on matters of animal welfare – was not able to get the directorate to confiscate the dogs is a testament to the dire situation the directorate presently finds itself in.
Frendo insisted that without proper legislation regulating the breeding of animals, educational campaigns on responsible ownership and a centre to deal with the ever-growing number of abuse and abandonment cases, there was no hope of improving the situation.
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