Animal welfare commissioner investigating case of euthanised dogs by government unit

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina is investigating the euthanasia of three dogs by the Animal Welfare Directorate

Commissioner for Animal Welfare Alison Bezzina
Commissioner for Animal Welfare Alison Bezzina

The Office of the Commissioner for Animal Welfare is investigating an alleged case of euthanasia of dogs by the Animal Welfare Directorate.

Commissioner Alison Bezzina said the incident happened over a period of time, with preliminary investigations showing it involved three or four “bully breeds”.

The investigation stemmed from online reports on three Pitbull dogs - Mason, Archie and Xena – which were put down by the Animal Welfare Department in recent weeks.

Details on the case are scarce, but reports state the dogs were put down over aggressive behavior.

It also comes after an opinion piece by Bezzina herself, who had warned the exploitation of pets could lead to the possibility of Malta introducing kill shelters.

Bezzina said her office is investigating the case, but insisted the practice is not illegal.

“The decision is taken by three people: the director, a certified vert and someone who had worked closely with the dogs in question,” she said.

But she did say that this was not a common occurrence. “It does not happen often.”

“The Office of the Commissioner is not in any way consulted beforehand in such cases as the law does not require the Animal Welfare Directorate to involve the Commissioner’s Office in any way,” the Facebook post read.

The law stipulates that “…aggressive animals shall not be kept in stock and may be slaughtered or culled if this is deemed to be necessary or expedient by the Director for Veterinary Services or Director for Animal Welfare.”

Questions have been sent to the Animal Welfare Directorate Head Patricia Azzopardi.

On Thursday, animal rights activists from vegan lifestyle Facebook page Vegan Prism, met with animal ministry officials to discuss a way forward on the issue.

They said that despite showing “genuine desire” to discuss the topic, “ministry officials were of the expressed notion that there is nothing that can be done for passed actions.”

“When pushed on accountability, they replied that accountability will be in making sure things change. Further insistence on accountability led to an agreement that an internal investigation will be made to see what happened as they themselves are not aware of who, when and why are killed at Animal Welfare,” they said.

“To the ministry’s credit, they are keen to implement the proposals that we have built for them. Please note that we made these proposals as both the Commissioner and the Director both believe that the only solution for these dogs was lifelong solitary confinement,” activists said.

They said the ministry have confirmed that muzzles have been ordered to be used and that from now on a behaviourist will be sought to consult on “aggressive” and “unpredictable” dogs.


MSPCA welcomes investigations

The Malta Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (MSPCA) has welcomed the investigation by the Commissioner for Animal Welfare.

It said that it appreciates that the Animal Welfare deals with an ever increasing influx of dogs and that most of them have behavioural issues due to their difficult past.

MSPCA suggested that the Animal Welfare adds animal behaviourists to their permanent team, in order to assist these dogs professionally.

It also called for more investment and for systematic political changes to the way the Animal Welfare is run.