After the last case of animal neglect, citizens use Facebook to ask when the dormant Animal Welfare Ministry will wake up from its delta sleep.

By Marica Micallef

More people are realising that our parliament is full of incompetent politicians and incompetent parliamentary secretaries. So what follows is a message on Facebook demanding more animal protection from our government.

After the case of the pitbulls seeking rightful revenge on their abusive owner, who bred them illegally and exposed them to illegal dog fights, Alicia Bugeja Said woke up and spoke up. However, Anton Refalo is probably still trying to ask someone to write a short message for him to say in a press conference, where he will inform the Maltese nation on how his dormant ministry will wake up from its delta sleep and start doing some actual work which reaps benevolent fruit for the whole country since “animals are sentient, intelligent, perceptive, funny, and entertaining. We owe them a duty of care as we do to the children” (Michael Morpurgo).

We get informed that the Animal Welfare department has confiscated the eight pit bulls which were left alone and unfed in the house. For this we can give the department some credit. The question now is: what will happen to these dogs, which are at the mercy of humans? The dogs do not look aggressive in the photo – otherwise, they would have been taken out sedated or muzzled. TVM news reported that they won’t be put down. Will they be assessed, trained and homed? Will they be truly seen to, cared for and loved, as they deserve?

If this country was a serious one with a serious animal welfare conscience and ministry, there would be a governmental set up of an animal rehabilitation centre and process run by professional animal behaviourists. These are set ups which exist in other countries where dogs which are confiscated because of reports of abuse or neglect or aggression get rehabilitated until they are adoptable. Only in cases where rehabilitation does not work out, then the dog is put to sleep.

But then we get Malta – and the usual political puppet show. This time, the show is run by Alicia Bugeja Said:

“”I would like to thank the Animal Welfare Department that from the beginning has been following up this case, so that the wellbeing of the animals concerned are safeguarded ” and “As a parliamentary secretary responsible of animal welfare, I will continue to follow up this case with scrutiny and I am convinced that the concerned institutions will do whatever it is possible so that justice reigns.” Is this a joke? Excuse me, but where were the concerned institutions in 2020 when the grandmother of the accused and her pet were mauled to death? What did you and Refalo do in those three years?

Why do our ministers always wake up from their delta sleep when it is too late? Why did the government allow an illegal breeder to continue to breed these pit bulls and train them for dog fights? When is our government going to do something about dog fights? When are our ministers responsible for the sector going to enforce laws? When are our ministers going to prohibit the irresponsible breeding of any breed where animals are exploited for money?

Why isn’t there a network of educational programs, community work and an adequate prison sentence or fine when someone is found guilty of animal abuse or neglect? They exist but are used by the police against the wrong persons. Why aren’t there any follow ups when a report of animal abuse or neglect is made to the department? Why didn’t anyone reply to my email when I reported a case of animal abuse and neglect myself? I did not get an acknowledgement, and any information about any action that the department has taken! Has the animal welfare department turned into a ghost town?

When are we going to see our court giving harsher penalties when it comes to punishing animal abusers? A person who abuses an innocent animal will not think twice to transfer that abuse onto a human being.

Torturing any life is a crime and no human being has the right to make any other creature suffer. As Sri Aurobindo had stated “Life is life – whether it is a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.”

Alicia Bugeja Said, do you truly have the right heart space to truly act and do something about the welfare of animals which, when safeguarded, the same welfare will automatically be transferred onto the general welfare of a whole nation? Solutions must not only lie in laws and more laws which is proving to be an unpractical political fiasco when the more laws we have, the less justice there is.

When the animal welfare department was set up, I thought that finally this nation would become more tolerant towards animals and their pet owners. I thought that finally animals have a voice. I forgot to remind my hopeful voice that our government is run by useless politicians.

And where is Anton Refalo? Is he lying somewhere deeply immersed in a delta sleep?

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