Animal rights minister offered seized Pomeranian to Gozitan voter

Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo has handpicked a Pomeranian dog that had just been confiscated from a suspected abuser to gift to a constituent, a prominent animal rights campaigner has warned.

The case, which Maxine Borg reported over the weekend, dates back to November 2021, when animal welfare officers confiscated around 20 dogs, many of them Pomeranian breeds, from a residence in Pieta after that an animal welfare inspection found them not to be in good condition.

Borg said that shortly after the raid, Refalo picked one of those dogs, a brown Pomeranian named Kikka, and gave it to a Gozitan family.

In a Facebook photo of the dog, a relative of the family tagged the minister’s wife, Lina Refalo.

This family eventually gave the dog to an elderly woman from Qala who reported him missing last weekend.

It turned out a man had found Kikka and delivered her straight to the Gozo Animal Welfare offices, where analysis of her microchip revealed she was registered in the name of the accused man of mistreating dogs in Pieta.

However, Borg said Gozitan Animal Welfare staff were not even aware Maltese animal welfare officials confiscated a group of dogs from the man less than a year ago and promptly returned Kikka to him.

The missing dog report

The missing dog report

The activist said that although the elderly woman has filed a police report, the police are reluctant to get involved as Animal Welfare have already returned the dog to its registered owner.

Borg said it was now up to Refalo to do whatever it took to remove Kikka from the hands of her registered owner and clarify whether she was the only dog ​​he took from among the confiscated pets.

The protocol states that following a raid, all confiscated animals must be immediately taken to the veterinary hospital to have their microchips and registration checked. From then on, they are officially in the custody of animal welfare until the case against the owner is over and their guilt or lack of it is established.

Until the end of the trial, Animal Welfare cannot put these animals up for adoption, although they are allowed to place them in foster care.

“Why did the minister intervene in this affair? Borg told Lovin Malta. “Anton Refalo created this mess and now it’s up to him to get Kikka back.”

A Facebook comment now deleted by one of the Gozitan family members

A Facebook comment now deleted by one of the Gozitan family members

Questions sent by Lovin Malta to Refalo remain unanswered at the time of writing.

However, in a since-deleted comment under a Facebook post, a member of the original Gozitan family said Refalo ‘helped’ them adopt Kikka but blamed it on the law, not the minister.

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina Told Times of Malta that an investigation has been launched to track the whereabouts and welfare of all dogs seized by animal protection officers.

Cover photo: Left: Kikka the dog, Center: The raid on Pieta’s residence last November, Right: Animal Rights Anton Refalo

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society caused by technological advances. He is passionate about justice, human rights and cutting edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or contact him at [email protected]

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