Stepping up companion animal welfare efforts

A conversation with Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Animal Rights, Alicia Bugeja Said, about various schemes and initiatives aimed at ensuring companion animals lead dignified lives.

Neutering campaigns

Last year saw the launch of a free neutering campaign for stray cats. Its primary objective is to reduce the number of cats on the streets, thereby safeguarding their well-being.

“We do not want animals roaming the wild without proper care, deprived of food, hygiene, and constantly exposed to the danger of traffic accidents, risking injury or even death,” explained the Parliamentary Secretary.

This campaign incurs significant costs for the Government, covering expenses related to cat neutering operations to ensure better protection and control.

“After all, no amount of money compares to animal health. As a Government, we’ve been and continue to work towards enhancing their rights for a better life. This year, following around 4,000 cat neutering operations since August 2023, we have once again extended this free service to stray cats,” elaborated the Parliamentary Secretary.

Additionally, a pilot project has been initiated for dogs, particularly farm dogs and bully breeds, which unfortunately face high rates of abandonment.

Animal Welfare Fund

This fund provides financial aid to sanctuaries or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) advocating for animals. €85,000 have been allocated for this year to support projects proposed by these organisations or sanctuaries. Each project can receive up to 80% of the total expenditure, capped at €8,000. Last year, 15 associations or sanctuaries benefited from various projects across Malta and Gozo.

“The Government lacks the resources to protect all animals in our country,” explained the Parliamentary Secretary. “Thanks to the efforts of sanctuaries and animal welfare NGOs, we’re able to reach more animals and ensure their rights are upheld. These funds serve as a token of appreciation for the invaluable work carried out by these organisations, particularly the volunteers who dedicate their time without expecting financial gain.”

“Adopt a Pet” scheme

“Every animal deserves a loving home,” expressed the Parliamentary Secretary. Unfortunately, many end up in sanctuaries, abandoned and some even mistreated. The Adopt a Pet voucher is aimed at dogs and cats adopted through Animal Welfare, providing veterinary services to alleviate some of the financial burden faced by pet owners.

“Every companion animal deserves love and a caring family. Pets become integral members of families. Therefore, we continue to advocate for the importance of providing animals with a home, where they are sheltered and embraced as part of a family, especially those who have never experienced this,” added the Parliamentary Secretary.

‘Check Your Pet’ campaign

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of regular health check-ups for pets, not only to address illness but also to prevent diseases.

“Just as we visit doctors for regular check-ups to ensure our well-being, we must do the same for our pets. We decided to take this initiative to people’s homes, visiting localities in Malta and Gozo with a specially designed campervan,” explained Alicia Bugeja Said.

Pet owners are encouraged to visit the van in their locality, where veterinarians will conduct health checks and provide information on the importance of regular check-ups.

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