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Animal rights groups urge political parties to ban animal circuses

Animal rights coalition urges political parties to ban animal circuses, insists for more promotion to non-animal circuses.

Miriam Dalli
1 November 2012, 12:00am
Repeated calls for banning of animal circuses.
The animal rights coalition has called on political parties to include the ban of animal circuses as part of their electoral manifesto.

"When public opinion both in Malta and overseas is turning against animal circuses and other exploitation of animals, Malta should be more proactive in this regard and circuses featuring animal acts should no longer be issued with permits to visit Malta. Instead, more emphasis should be given to promote and bring to Malta non animal circuses as a means of cruelty free entertainment," the NGO said.

Hunting and trapping

According to the coalition, the majority of the Maltese do not want to see the birds, shot out of the sky or condemned to spend their lives in small cages.

"There are still illegalities with regard to hunting and trapping but the perception is that hunters try to influence party policies by threatening to withhold their votes," it said.

"However, animal and bird lovers also vote and have rights to enjoy nature and the countryside."

While urging government to strengthen the ALE, the animal rights groups said that "the season should be brought to an end immediately" when illegalities occur. "Anyone caught hunting or trapping illegally should have their guns or equipment confiscated and should be barred from ever again holding a licence," it said.

Cruelty to animals

The possibility of harsher sentences for animal abuse is available, yet, still suspended sentences are given which are seen as just a slap on the wrist, which reinforce the message that animals do not matter.

"Animal abusers should be dealt with in such a way that it is a deterrent to anyone else thinking of harming animals."

Farm animals

The NGOs urged the political parties to see that farm animals are inspected regularly: "Legislation regarding animal welfare should include ALL animals bred for food, including rabbits. It should be made illegal for rabbits and poultry to be reared in garages or sheds where they do not even get to see the light of day."

The coalition also calls for breeders to attend animal welfare courses.

On the transport and slaughter of animals for food, the groups said this should be "as humane as possible with regular inspections and if necessary CCTV to monitor the process".

Among other suggestions, the coalition called for shorter journey times, regular inspection of transport means and other measures by which to reduce the stress of the animals.

 Working animals

On working animals such as Police dogs and horses, guide dogs and search and rescue dogs, the coalition such that provision should be made to reach an age when they can no longer work.

"Systems should be in place so that they can have a dignified and comfortable retirement, in return for the service they have given to humans," they said.

Rat and slug poison

At present, rat and slug poison can be easily bought off ironmongery shops or pet shops and no record is kept as to who bought them.

"Overseas, stricter sales registration exists for rat, slug poisons and more. This should be introduced locally as there is evidence that these poisons are also being used inappropriately."

Fish

The animal rights coalition said that there should be specifications as to the minimum size of fish that can be caught.

"Any fish smaller than the minimum should be thrown back, this even for reasons of sustainability," it said.

It added that the practice of children catching marine creatures and "leaving them in small buckets of water to boil to death in the summer sun, should be strongly discouraged".

Animal zoos

The coalition said that animals were being placed in small cages in some so-called entertainment venues.

"Malta does not have the space to house large animals adequately. The idea of seeing animals behind bars is an outdated. The same applies to dolphinariums; the sea around Malta is one of our main assets and we enjoy it to the full. It is, therefore, unjust that we deny dolphins and other animals the right to enjoy what is in fact their natural habitat."

Pet shops and importation of animals

The coalition has urged political parties to seek better regulations on the importation of exotic animals.

Non-indigenous animals such as crocodiles and other reptiles, and large potentially dangerous animals such as tigers, should no longer be allowed to enter the country.

"If irresponsible people purchase these exotic animals and then set them loose, would be disastrous both for the local wildlife, the animal itself, and also humans," the coalition.

The coalition said that pet shops should be closely monitored and controlled.

"Owners of exotic and dangerous animals should prove that the animal is being kept in a suitable and secure environment and is covered by sufficient insurance to cover costs or damages if their 'pet' escapes or injures another animal or a human."

Further breeding from exotic animals already on the Island, should not be allowed so that these animals will die out naturally.

Horse-led cabs

"The situation needs to improve without further delay. Promises alone do not suffice in this regard and immediate action is needed. All horses should have adequate shelter from the weather and access to a water supply. Any owners convicted of ill-treatment or neglect should have their animal confiscated and not be allowed to own a horse ever again."

Horses for competition

The animal rights group said that organisers should ensure a vet is present from start to finish; the expenses to be borne by the organizers.

"There should also be adequate shade and water facilities for the horses. Illegal horse races must be immediately stopped and horses should be confiscated from their owners. The organizers should be dealt with in a manner that deters them from ever organizing such races again."

Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of ...