Fabian Demicoli

Protection of Animals Offered in Pet Shops


Hon
Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal
Welfare endorsed essential amendments to the Animal Welfare Act-

Protection of
Animals offered in Pet Shops from what has originally been proposed after
several meetings with GRTU on behalf of Pet Shop Owners and the Authorities
concerned. The L.N. 244/2013 will come into force on April 2nd 2014.
The
GRTU welcomes the new law as it will indeed mean an increase in the level of
protection of animals and as the Authorities themselves confirmed most of the
pet shops will only need to make minor amendments to facilitate inspection.

The
GRTU also welcomes this law as it will put anyone selling an animal, be it from
a pet shop, a private residence and a website in a position of breach of law
should they not follow any part of it. This will establish a level playing
field which till now is very lacking as pet shops are regularly inspected while
other individuals selling animals are most of the time ignored.

GRTU
emphasises that it is totally in favour of increased animal protection and
condemns without reservation abuse, neglect and cruelty on any species.  GRTU however felt the need to intervene as
certain aspects of the law would have heavily burdened pet shop owners making
certain aspects of their business unsustainable. The GRTU representing pet
shops has managed to convince the authorities to accept  amendments to the law without essentially
reducing the level of increased animal protection which was the aim of this law
in the first place.

The
GRTU has managed to postpone the date of the law coming into force earlier due
to the fact that discussions took long and it was practically impossible as
both from the side of the authorities and the pet shops preparations and
courses have to be undertaken.

The
most important change the GRTU has brought about relates to record keeping.
Record keeping is important as it can shed light on repetitive problems within
an establishment and provide a tracking system, should a problem with a particular
species arise. Record keeping however is burdensome therefore GRTU proposed and
its proposal was accepted to limit record keeping to the species which need it
most as some species enter and exit the pet shop too frequently to keep records
of.

In
fact purchasing records (the invoice) would be kept but when it comes to sale
records they would be kept only for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, poultry and
all other animals included in the Registration of Exotic Animals Regulations,
2010. This diminished the bureaucratic burden significantly and maintains
record keeping where it is most needed.

Another
bureaucratic and costly burden that was alleviated was the requirement of
having a Veterinary surgeon to verify all the mortalities. This now will be
done only for mortalities
in access of 10% of individual species. Had this requirement been maintained
the Veterinary inspection would cost much more than most of the animals
themselves, jeopardising the sustainability of pet shops. One must also keep in
mind that it is in the best interest of the pet shops to keep all pets alive as
otherwise they would suffer loss of earnings .

Another
difficult requirement in the law was the long acclimatization period for all
animal species when entering the pet shop. These were considered too long and
might have involved the pet shop needing a significant amount of extra space
for quarantine.

From
seven days for any animal, acclimatization period was reduced to 2 days for
birds and others, 12hrs for fish and 0hrs for chickens. A proposal accepted was
to exclude hand reared parrots from the requirement of not selling animals that
are not weaned this because there is a specific niche market that requires
these birds before being weaned due to the bonding of the bird with its owner.

Also
accepted was the change of wording that was proposed which leads to less
stringent cleaning impositions which are now more related to need. Similarly
the working was arranged to replacing of food when needed which means that dry
food can be kept for longer periods than soft food. GRTU also claimed for and
managed to get accepted the inclusion of enclosure sizes  for other species of animals which were not
yet included.

GRTU
emphasised the need to maintain the same level of cooperation GRTU managed to
create between the public and private sector and therefore the cooperation of
pet shops should not be lost by aggressive behaviour. The approach should be
one to guide and teach. The authorities confirmed that inspectors were being
coached into this attitude.

The
GRTU together with the relevant institutions will be working on establishing
the relevant qualification requirements and ensuring that pet shops having
years of experience are treated and assessed on their experience and given the
necessary recognition.

Work
is still ongoing however GRTU would like to thank  Hon Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary
for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Welfare, Dr Roberto Andrea Balbo –
Director (Veterinary Regulation), Dr Duncan Chetcuti Ganado – Veterinary
Officer and Emanuel Buhagiar – Officer Animal Welfare for the support offered
from their end during a General Meeting held for pet shops on Monday 6th
January 2014.

GRTU
more specifically would like to thank all pet shops who participated in all the
discussions and  Dr Anthony Gruppetta for
the excellent consultation and openness to understand the different situations
and requirements of the sector. It is unfortunately very rare that real consultations
like this one are carried out.

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