Pet shop owner in Malta charged with animal cruelty
A pet shop in Hamrun, Malta was yesterday described as a veritable concentration camp as its owner was arraigned in court for animal cruelty.
The pet shop, High Society Canine Beautician in Hamrun, had little ventilation and rusted cages which, in some cases, were only slightly larger than the animals they housed, animal welfare inspector Emanuel Buhagiar testified.
He said a raid was carried out on 26 April and 51 animals were found in the shop in conditions resembling a 'concentration camp', with dogs, cats, three rabbits and even a rooster crammed into tiny cages.
In addition, the animals were sharing the confined spaces with their excrement, he said.
The pet shop is owned by 48-year-old Mario Aquilina of Hamrun who is pleading not guilty to animal cruelty and operating without a licence.
The inspector said the case had first come to light after a number of complaints were made to the police and the animal welfare department about the strong smell coming from the shop.
However, the animals have not been moved. The inspector complained to Magistrate Antonio Vella that the police could not shut the shop down because they were not empowered to do so by the law.
And as things stand, the police can only confiscate animals if they are certified by a vet to be sick.
Max Farrugia, Chairman of International Animal Rescue in Malta, praised the police and the animal welfare department but urged the authorities to continue with the amendments to local legislation to give more legal power to the police in such cases.