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Animal welfare centre in Malta to open on World Animal Day

Puppies being sold at the Marsaxlokk marketThe animal aftercare centre currently being built by the Malta Government at Ta' Qali will be officially inaugurated on 4th October – World Animal Day. The announcement was made during the August Animal Welfare Council meeting. The centre will be run by the Government in conjunction with the Ambulance service, which itself is run by the animal welfare directorate of the Ministry of Rural Affairs.  The centre will have room for 50 dogs, a paddock for horses and an exotic animals section.  A service for post-operative care for strays and pets will be provided by making use of private vets.  

According to a source close to the Animal Welfare Council, a number of pieces of draft legislation to amend the Dogs Act, the new Dogs Regulation, Pet Shops, Boarding Kennels and Sanctuaries are currently gathering dust at the minister's office. The Chairman to the Council is optimistic that they will be published in October after the summer holidays, however other council members believe they will take much longer.    

Following protests from the Union representing the pet shops, lengthy consultation is taking place with pet shop owners over the intended legislation. The majority of people appear to be taking a sensible approach, with 80% attendance rate at the arranged meetings in Malta and 50% in Gozo. Changes to the draft are being negotiated with regard to the registration of births and deaths (of puppies for example) and the acclimatisation period. Artificially dyed animals will be forbidden, as will the use of vets for treating other peoples’ pets in pet shops and the sale of pets in open markets.

A great deal of work has also gone into consideration of the use of roads by horses (karrozzini, hearses carts etc) in consultation with The Transport Authority. Animal welfare groups have produced a regulation on the welfare aspects, either for inclusion or for separate publication. The Use of Horses in Competitions Regulation continues to be discussed.  The major hitch is the insistence by NGOs that a vet must be present when horses race or participate in a gymkhana. It seems that, owing to the opposition, there is a long and tortuous path ahead for this regulation and an uncertain future.