NEWS | Sunday, 28 October 2007

Government to go ahead with neutering programme

Bianca Caruana

Animal welfare Non-Governmental Organisations have finally had their prayers answered for a neutering programme in Malta, with the Government pumping Lm75,000 – half of the Lm150,000 allocated to animal welfare in Budget 2008 – into the initiative.
“The Minister (George Pullicino) promised that he would do his best to secure funding, and this he has done,” Betty Berry from the SPCA in Gozo said. “We owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing animal welfare to the fore and making it an integral part of the budget for 2008.”
While Lm75,000 will go towards a neutering programme aimed at reducing the numbers of stray animals on the streets, a further Lm75,000 will be used to upgrade existing sanctuary facilities. Minister Pullicino has meanwhile urged animal welfare associations to come in line with the Voluntary Organisations Act, come into force in the near future.  
Apart from the Lm150,000, more funds will be allocated towards building an Animal Welfare Centre. But Berry, while grateful for the financial support being given, argues that the centre will not be of any use to the Gozo SPCA.
“What we need most desperately in Gozo are new, larger premises in an out-of-town location. It is becoming increasingly difficult to cope in our woefully inadequate centre in the heart of Victoria. It is not the ideal area for a busy rescue and re-homing centre.”
Meeting with NGOs, Minister Pullicino thanked the animal welfare organisations for “the sterling work and the countless hours of voluntary work.” He was grateful to Air Malta for generously allocating 800kgs of free excess cargo weight for the re-homing of animals abroad. A total of 33 dogs found a safe home abroad thanks to this initiative.
Berry said: “Four of those lucky animals were from Gozo and we are grateful that we have been able to re-home dogs, thereby freeing up valuable space in the centre for the unending numbers of unwanted and abandoned animals.”
All NGOs feel grateful for this support since as the number of animals continues to rise, the cost of feed, care and medical expenses also escalates. Most hope that numbers will stabilise with the introduction of the neutering programme.

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