Malta gets its first Commissioner for Animal Welfare

Former police officer Emanuel Buhagiar appointed Commissioner for Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Commissioner Emanuel Buhagiar
Animal Welfare Commissioner Emanuel Buhagiar

A former police officer, Emanuel Buhagiar, 57, has been appointed as Commissioner for Animal Welfare.

For the past five years he has worked within the Animal Welfare Directorate as an inspector.

Buhagiar’s appointment to the post was made possible following amendments to the Animal Welfare Act allowing the setting up of a Commissioner. According to the law, the Commissioner shall be appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the responsible minister.

In a statement, the government said the appointment of a Commissioner for Animal Welfare was “a significant step to push further the importance of animal welfare”.

Through his role, Buhagiar will now promote and advocate for animal welfare and the highest standards of health, keeping and treatment of animals; promote educational campaigns and social dialogue on issues relating to animal welfare; to make recommendations to the Minister and the Council on the making of standards, guidelines and regulations relating to animal welfare;

Among other functions, Buhagiar will review and investigate, either out of his own motion or following a complaint received by him, the functions and workings of the Council, the Directorate of Veterinary Services, or the Directorate responsible for Animal Welfare.

Buhagiar worked as an official within the police’s forensic laboratory for 26 years and went on to join the Animal Welfare Directorate in 2009. During the past five years Buhagiar presented over 70 cases in court involving animal abuse, including the infamous cases of Star and Gaia, two dogs victims of animal cruelty.

According to the government, Buhagiar had a crucial role in helping the police solve a series of animal cruelty cases in Mosta where cats and dogs were found crucified.