€20,000 for keeping 44 dogs in a bad state at his Żejtun home

A 66-year-old man from Żejtun has been handed down a two-year jail term suspended for four years and has been fined 20,000 euro after being found guilty of keeping 44 dogs in a bad state at his home.

Antonio Vella was arraigned in Court after officials from the Directorate for Proper Treatment of Animals had inspected his home in February two years ago and found several dogs in a bad state.

On entering the premises the officials were assailed by a smell of urine and found dog faeces on the floor, and whilst many of the dogs were running around the house, six dogs were being kept in cages in the garage.

Each case, measuring 2 X 1.5 metres, contained between five and seven Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Most of the dogs were microchipped, but 14 were not. Ten dogs were registered in the name of his wife, who is dead, and two were registered in the name of another person.

Although the majority of the dogs were of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, there were also other breeds, including Tal-Fenek, Rough Collie, Chow Chow and Shih Tzu.

The officials noted that the dogs running loose in the home were in a better condition than the caged dogs, which were skinny. Many of the dogs had knotted fur, which was also dirty.

When the officials asked why there were so many dogs, the man replied he was fond of dog shows, and even showed them medals he had won.

Magistrate Nadine Lia, who presided the case, remarked that the accused had lost control of how to keep dogs, and issued a condemnation for making use of some of the dogs to win medals.

“It is of concern to this Court, as well as putting in a bad light the hobby of those who breed and enter dogs in competitions, that an ugly reality exists about the treatment of these animals after they are no longer used for competitions and are past their prime.”

When handing down sentence the Magistrate took into consideration, among other issues, the fact that Vella had never shown any remorse for what he had done to the dogs, as well as the fact that the situation had remained unchanged between inspections.

The Magistrate also ordered the Directorate for Proper Treatment of Animals to take over the animals and if needed, to rehome them.

Inspector Trevor Micallef prosecuted.