Apr 24, 2009

Animal welfare should be no stray matter

Silta mill-Editorjal ta' Times of Malta ta' llum :

The news that Freddie Fenech, who founded the Association for Abandoned Animals in 1979, is being investigated in connection with allegations of misappropriating the sanctuary's funds, rocked the foundation of trust that hundreds heaped on this man as the saviour of strays.

The story has also exposed the importance that sanctuaries are run professionally. For years, animal lovers were left to fend on their own, picking up injured animals off the street and relying on the public's generosity to feed and keep them. Taking in strays off the road may look like it is solving the problem because they are not seen, but dumping dogs, of all shapes and sizes, together does more harm than good. That is when the dogs gang up in packs and the slaughter begins.

In recent years, a number of organisations have single-handedly worked to come up with a professional set-up, building pens, neutering and chipping the animals. However, these organisations can never take a breather if the dumping of animals continues. The sense of carelessness some people have towards animals is astounding and it is these organisations and individuals that have to clean up the mess and pick up the animals. Alas, these sanctuaries are chock-a-block and if they stop caring Malta would be in a right mess.

Luckily, in recent years, animal awareness has finally crept into the political agenda and it is safe to say that the commitment is firm. Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino has come to the rescue and roped in the sanctuaries to kick start a nationwide neutering campaign. He also launched the animal welfare centre project in Ta' Qali, which should offer a safe haven for strays once completed. Everybody just hopes it opens sooner rather than later because this could be the answer to the prayers of animal organisations that are stretched to the limit.

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