People guilty of animal cruelty should be banned from owning pets, animal welfare czar says

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina recommends courts have wider powers in ordering ban on ownership in cases of animal cruelty  

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina
Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina

The Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina has recommended the law surrounding animal cruelty be changed to give the court wider powers to ban people from having pets in cases of cruelty.  

On Monday, a man was handed a suspended jail sentence for throwing and killing his dog by throwing it down a height of two storeys.  

The court established that the incident, which happened last September, took place while the 50-year-old from Marsascala was under the influence of alcohol and anti-depressants.  

The court could not ban the accused from keeping a dog as a pet in the future, because he was charged under the Animal Welfare Act, which did not provide the court with the discretion to carry out the ban.  

Such a ban can only be ordered under current legislation if the owner is charged under the Electronic Identification of Dogs regulations. 

In practice therefore, if a perpetrator is found guilty of animal cruelty but not of microchipping their dog, the courts cannot apply this ban regardless of how hideous their crime against animals is. 

The Animal Commissioner filed her recommendations to the animal rights ministry after the case made headlines.  

“My recommendation is that the law is changed in a way that gives the court a wider opportunity to impose this ban wherever cruelty, abuse or neglect of animals is involved, and not only a ban on the ownership of dogs but on the ownership of all animals,” Bezzina told Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo.  

She also recommended that when such a ban is imposed on anyone, no one in their household would be allowed to own animals either. 

According to sought legal advice this can be achieved by including a well written clause in the main Animal Welfare Act CAP 439. 

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