Exotic and dangerous pets to be registered in Malta
Owners of exotic and dangerous pets in Malta will have three months to register their animals with the authorities or pay a fine of up to €46,500, according to an upcoming legal notice.
Pet owners who fail to fall in line with the new rules will face criminal proceedings that could lead to a fine of between €232 and €46,587 and even the confiscation of their animal by the authorities.
The draft legal notice, which has been seen unofficially by International Animal Rescue, is expected to be published shortly. It will fill a legal gap that was exposed last September when a Bengal tiger cub was discovered in a Mosta warehouse by animal welfare officials.
In the case mentioned above which was reported at the time on IAR's website (28 September 2009) the owner of the animal had all the necessary paperwork but the find highlighted the absence of specific regulations covering such animals when imported as pets. This meant that practically any animal could be imported, including dangerous species such as crocodiles and poisonous snakes.
The legal notice will now include a comprehensive list of animals, dangerous and exotic, that cannot be imported and kept as pets by individuals. Such animals already in the country will be exempt but the owners will have to register them.
The law as it stands allows people to import and keep any type of animal as a pet as long as it is not protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Several dangerous species are included in the CITES list but it is not comprehensive enough to include many poisonous reptiles or insects, for example. Moreover, as was the case with the Bengal tiger cub, the convention does not cover animals that were born in captivity.