Two animal rights NGOs are calling for the assembly of a new department in Malta solely focused on animal rights.
As two of 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, which also includes a pet license for owners and the banning of horse-driven carriages.
“We believe that we need to have an animal rights department that is totally separate and unconnected from the Agriculture Department,” Veggy Malta Co-ordinator and vegan activist Darryl Grima stated.
“This Department would be the voice of all animals, contrary to other Departments like Agriculture and Fisheries, Wild Birds Regulation Unit, Transport Authority and others that put human needs first,” Grima continued.
“We also want to see a switch from pet ownership to pet guardianship. This means a complete change in how we treat companion animals,” Animal Liberation Malta activist Haroon Ali added.
“From being treated like property they become family members and the guardians need to assume the responsibilities of guardianship,” he said.
“The scope of the Animal Rights Department would be the voice of all animals, pets, so-called livestock, and working animals differently from that of animal welfare whose voice is muffled under the lobby and pressure of the meat, fish and dairy industry,” the NGOs stated.
As it stands, Malta’s Animal Welfare Department is currently responsible for enforcing animal legislation and rescuing animals in need, while in line with Maltese and EU regulations.
This is what the NGOs are calling for:
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, nor the same Permanent Secretary which would avoid any administrative and policy conflicts.
3. 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.
4. The administration of the pet carer’s licence would fall under the remit of this department.
5. Promoting the rights of fish would also be within the remit of this Department. Overfishing and overexploitation of fish are having an impact on the marine ecosystem, along with the large levels of plastic pollution most of which is caused by the fishing industry itself.
6. In fact the promotion and support of the lives of all animal biodiversity would be part of the remit, including wild birds.
Veggy Malta and Animal Liberation Malta also brought forward a number of suggestions when it comes to working animals:
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.
Sounds good; people will not accept the status quo – governments need to step up to the plate, and reality !