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GRTU as the national organisation representing Pet Shops has been approached by Dr Anthony Gruppetta on behalf of the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs and the Council for Animal Welfare to discuss with us a new Act they would be introducing some point after the beginning of next year.
Following an introductory meeting between Dr Gruppetta and the GRTU we called for an urgent meeting in Malta and Gozo for the Pet shops that trade in live animals (mammals/ birds/ fish/ reptiles). The absolute majority of such Pet Shops attended the meetings.
The Act is directed at the protection of animals kept in pet shops for trade. The aim of GRTU and its members in the sector is to ensure the protection of animals while avoiding measures that might be disproportionate on the operators.
This Act would establish much needed minimum standards, most of which are already present within the Pet Shops as can be confirmed by the Ministry through their inspections, however putting them into law would give the Ministry the power to proceed against animal cruelty within such establishments.
Following concerns expressed by the GRTU and its members the start date of the Act would be moved according to sound requirements by the sector. Two very important aspects of the Act would be the creation of a separate licence to trade in live animals and would be given only to establishments that reach the basic requirements. Amongst others it would eliminate the possibility to sell live animals in the road and on open markets. Another issue is the fact that personnel within the pet shop would have to be adequately qualified either through experience or through short courses such as animal handling, etc…
A bone of contention so far seems to be the 7 day acclimatisation period for new pets entering the pet shop for sale and it is arguable if this period is needed for all species. Another one is the feeding system as it is widely agreed that certain types of food need replacing within a couple hours and others can stay longer, this also depending on the type and age of the animal, for example younger animals tend to eat less but more frequently and by having their food removed would do more harm than good.
Two strong issues which the sector has on the Act are the requirement to have a death certificate made by a Vet for each animal that dies, which especially for pet shops trading in birds and fish this might constitute a large increase in cost. Another issue again mostly for traders in birds and fish is the requirement to register the import and sale of individual animals. This is also something that would push costs up.
The sector complained in general that on importation the animals might become sick because they are not treated well at the airport before release. They also complained that animals are sold on the internet and from households by individuals not holding a license. They argued these issues should also be addressed.
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