Home VM NewsOpinion National Animal Welfare Strategy – ALM and VM proposals

National Animal Welfare Strategy – ALM and VM proposals

by Darryl Grima

As the leading local voices for veganism and animal activism Veggy Malta and Animal Liberation Malta have teamed up to issue some points for the National Animal Welfare Strategy.

Animal Welfare & Animal Rights

Animal Liberation Malta and Veggy Malta in principle disagree with the very concept of animal welfare. Animal welfare is based on the fact that animals are owned by humans. In fact animals are described as “livestock” – stock or merchandise that is alive and also traded as commodities.

The European Union in 2009 recognised that animals are sentient beings. This means that amongst other feelings also feel pain. That essentially means that we are knowledgeable of the fact that animals feel pain yet still we allow it and support it!

Animal agriculture results in the abuse and the infliction of pain on animals. Animal welfare might try to decrease this pain, but the abuse will always be there. The justification for animal welfare is that it tries to decrease the suffering to animals whilst at the same time increasing productivity and output. Increasing animal welfare standards on farms has also been a gravy train for animal farmers to scoop EU funding through the Common Agricultural Policy. Europe’s largest fund which is still subsidising a polluting and cruel industry in counter parallel to its climate ambitions.

In this regard we are suggesting the following recommendations:

  1. Animal welfare and the EU commitments on animal welfare should be managed by an autonomous unit within the Agriculture department.
  2. Separately and completely unaligned, there should be an Animal Rights Department that does not fall under the remit of Agriculture, neither the same Permanent Secretary which would avoid any administrative and policy conflicts.

The scope of the Animal Rights Department would be the voice of all animals, pets, so called livestock, working animals differently to that of animal welfare whose voice is muffled under the lobby and pressure of the meat, fish and dairy industry.

  • Education would be a key role within this department. Building a new generation that is brought up to understand the rights all living animals have and that no species is above any other.
  • The administration of the Pet carer’s licence (explained further down) would fall under the remit of this department.
  • Promoting the rights of fish would also be within the remit of this Department. Overfishing and overexploitation of fish is having an impact of the marine ecosystem, along with the large levels of plastic pollution most of which is cause by the fishing industry itself.
  • In fact the promotion and support of the lives of all animal biodiversity would be part of the remit, including wild birds.

Pet Guardianship licence

Animal Liberation Malta and Veggy Malta recognise the importance that pets bring in households and families. With respect to this yet in respect to the fact that pets are sentient beings we believe that they should have rights that are protected. Thus we are suggesting some key changes.

  1. Guardianship not ownership. The concept of owning another living animal should be abolished. We are suggesting a change towards caring similar to guardianship / parenting. Just as in the case of a child, the parents assume responsibility for the care and protection of the child the same will apply to pets in a family.
  2. Family member. Taking a leaf of the recent legislation in Spain and extending it, a pet should be a considered as a member of the family. Similarly, as is in Spain, in the case of separation, pets cannot be seized, abandoned, mistreated, sold or even removed from one of the carers.
  3. Companion animals. Pets should be companion animals and thus only those animals that can fit the criteria of companion animals should be allowed as pets. All other animals currently “owned” by humans that are not companion animals should no longer be allowed. Any form of trade in these other animals should be banned.
  4. Caring. A guideline for the proper care of each type of companion animal needs to be created by the Animal Rights Department.
  5. Guardianship Licence. Caring of a companion animal will come with a set of responsibilities as dictated by the guidelines. No person has the automatic right to care for an animal until they have successfully completed a training course and pass a test. After which it entitles them to a termed licence.
  6. No companion animal can be sold. Just as the trade and profiteering from humans is shunned upon, so should the profiteering on the sale of companion animals. No pet should be sold, bartered or traded. The principle of putting a value on the life of an animal is deplorable.
  7. Genetic traits. Animals with genetic traits as is the case of brachycephalic pets (flat-faced pets), which have genetic breathing problems like brachycephalic syndrome, heart problems, tooth problems, skin and ear problems, causing life-long issues and suffering for the animals, should not be allowed.

Working animals

Unfortunately in 2022 we still see a number of animals living as work animals. Whilst the first that will come to mind are the horses of Karozzini, there are a number of other animals that fall within the category of working animals. Our position on working animals is as follows:

  1. No animal should be made to work in conditions that would not be acceptable for a human.
  2. Animal testing in Malta should be banned. Unfortunately Malta allows animal testing.
  3. Horse driven carriages should be banned completely.
  4. Zoos should be closed. Animals shouldn’t be props in a caged show for human entertainment. The profiteering from the sale/trade of large and wild animals should also be banned.
  5. Malta is an EU country that does not have any fur farms. In light of this it should be easy for the state to legislate and prohibit the opening of any fur farms on the island.
  6. Where it comes to farm/sea animals, we believe that the best way to ensure that an animal is not abused is not through animal welfare, but by not supporting the meat, fish and dairy industry by purchasing from them.

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