It is not the first time that Minister Anton Refalo was involved in controversies in the media.
Gozo.news had reported Minister Refalo’s announcement of “Adopt a Pet Day“ which was held on the 16th of January 2022 at the Salesian Brigade Headquarters in Għajn Tuffieħa “aimed at individuals and families interested in meeting pets who are waiting to be adopted as well as those interested in learning about animals and their care.” Minister Refalo had “stressed that the Government will continue to encourage and educated the Maltese and Gozitan people about adoptions.”
And while he is busy together with the Government encouraging the Maltese and Gozitan people to adopt he purchased a pure-bred dog rather than adopting one and helping Malta’s struggling sanctuaries or better still he could adopt the dog which has been at the Animal Welfare Department for a long time or a dog which is the least adoptable! He should be leading by example instead of doing the opposite of his “Adopt a Pet Day” advocating!
Then we had another article reporting that Minister Anton Refalo had bypassed animal welfare procedures and handed a confiscated Pomerian for adoption to a Gozitan woman in his electoral district when the regulations say that confiscated dogs can only be handed for temporary fostering but cannot be handed over for adoption until court proceedings involving the owner are exhausted. This poor dog ended up being handed over by the Gozitan woman to another Gozitan woman and when the dog escaped the animal welfare officers returned it back to the original owner from whom it had been confiscated from squalid conditions in Pieta’!
When a new owner adopts a dog by law the owner must register or transfer the dog and its microchip number onto his/her name. It appeared that the animal welfare officers returned the dog to the abusive original owner on the dog’s microchip data. Why wasn’t this done by the new owner? Why did the dog poor soul end up running from one adoptee to the next to then end up to its original owner?
Doesn’t this all show that legal procedures were bypassed? Was the welfare of this dog taken into consideration? Had the animal welfare officers a clue that this dog had been confiscated by its owner to whom they returned it to? Did the animal welfare officers know that their minister had given this dog to a Gozitan woman? Does the animal welfare department realise that this dog was being irresponsably traumatised by going from one owner to the next? Did the animal welfare department know hopefully from files they keep that this dog was still subject to a court case and should have never been given for adoption? Is Minister Refalo knowledgeable about these procedures or is he in Parliament just to heat up his seat and take a wage? Or does he know but he decides to bypass regulations as he pleases?
And yet it appears that there is more information which we do not know about Minister Refalo. A comment by Rosalind Agius the current manager of Associated for Abandoned Animals who has been in animal activism and taking care of abused and neglected dogs for eighteen years states:
[Thank you Island Sanctuary. (referring to the firing of Patricia Azzopardi) To hide the incompetence that is coming from above that they do not want to change the laws people that are not truly interested in animals but that are given a job in the animal welfare department because they are friends of the politicians and a thousand more things that are not mentioned.
And what should we say about the puppies that the minister had given to his Gozitan friends from the confiscations of the pure-bred dogs which were done? And he gave one to an ‘important’ person that happened to be the sister of another ‘important’ person in Malta.
That is theft because the adoptions were not done as should be. Theft of dogs.
Did they forget about this? And now they are blaming the Director?]