Activists concerned legal amendments will lead to return of animal circuses

Activists say they were not consulted on changes to the Animal Welfare Act, which will allow animals to be used as ‘props’

Activists have insisted that should proposed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act come into effect, Malta will see the return of circus acts.

“Unfortunately, these changes were pushed through parliament without the animal NGOs and activists being consulted, and neither was any public consultation done. It is a pity that changes to the Animal Welfare Act were bulldozed through parliament without dialogue. This was a missed opportunity by the government for dialogue with animal NGOs and activists,” it said.

MaltaToday had spoken to activists who voiced their concern about legal changes which would allow animals to be used as “props or extras in artistic, theatrical and cinematic performances, sport competitions and any activities approved by the Veterinary Services Director”.

The amendment is part of a raft of changes to the Animal Welfare Act approved by MPs at committee stage and now awaiting the final vote at Third Reading stage.

“From a situation whereby animals had full and complete protection against circuses, the changes coming into effect on the 20th will essentially allow circus acts to be legal again under a Labour government. This is effectively turning the clock backwards rather than being a step forward in animal protection as should happen,” activists said.

Animal Liberation Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Real Animal Rights Foundation, Vuci ghall-Annimali, Association for Abandoned Animals, Kitty Gardens for Strays and some animal activists have come up with a list of proposals “to limit the damage that will come into effect with these changes.”

“Our proposals for guidelines clearly split events into two categories. One group like dog shows that would have automatic permits and all others events that fall under these wide definitions would require an approved permit from the Director VRD,” they said.

“Additionally, our proposal most importantly includes the concept of appeal, rather than allowing all the powers invested solely at the discretion of the Director VRD. This is a key aspect of the proposal, which gives NGOs and individuals the right to appeal a permit issued by the Director VRD on the grounds that it goes against the AW Act. Appeals would be lodged to the Commissioner of Animal Welfare.”