Dog lovers rejoice: a legislation which many people have wanted updated has now been confirmed. It’ll now officially be illegal to chain up dogs in Malta.
Before today, the Animal Welfare Act (Cap. 439) didn’t provide any subsidiary legislation to regulate the keeping of dogs, which is why these new additions were suggested.
New regulations on the keeping of dogs will not only make it illegal to chain dogs, but also enforce a ban on inadequate collars
The point of the new regulations is to eliminate all forms of suffering being inflicted on dogs, which makes chaining the mere tip of the iceberg.
So what has changed?
Along with the use of inadequate collars, the legislation also targets inappropriate confinement areas and the improper transportation of dogs.
Added provisions include it being illegal to “tether, fasten, chain or restrain a dog to any stationary object as permanent housing of a dog and/or primary method of confinement”. The adequate confinement and transportation has also been made a priority, particularly when it comes to safeguarding the welfare of the dog being confined or transported.
At the same time, it will also be permissible to restrain dogs in certain situations, for example when using handheld leashes while walking them, during veterinary procedures, or as enforcement by either veterinary or animal welfare offices.
“This will ensure that no individual keeps a dog tethered, or cause a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, or restrained to any stationary object as primary method of confinement,” the Ministry for the Environment said. “Furthermore, the new subsidiary legislation will include regulations regarding the adequate confinement area and transportation of dogs.”
Many people will welcome this new legislation, especially considering the proven negative effects that these practices have on dogs.
It is common for continuously tethered dogs to endure physical ailments as a result. Their necks can become raw and sore, and their collars can painfully grow into their skin. They are vulnerable to insect bites and parasites and are at an elevated risk of entanglement, strangulation and harassment or attack by other dogs or people.
During period of extreme heat, tethered dogs may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun, and it has been found that owners who chain their dogs are less likely to clean the area of confinement, causing the dogs to eat and sleep in an area contaminated with urine and faeces. Sadly, this ends up becoming a vicious cycle of maltreatment, since due to their often neurotic behaviour, chained dogs are rarely given any affection.
The newer, stricter legislations follow instructions proposed by NGOs working with animals. These organisations have been campaigning long and hard on how dogs are naturally social beings that need interaction with humans and other animals.
Chaining and intensive confinement would definitely damage their physical and psychological wellbeing, making them neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.
Now, however, thanks to this new legislation, here’s hoping Malta’s canine friends get to live a happier, more social life.