I cannot for the life of me remember when I first started advocating for pest control poison to be regulated in the way it is sold and used, but I remember it being as far back as my days at Dogs Trust Malta so it has been at least some time since 2012.
Besides our issue as an animal welfare NGO with the use of the poison itself to control vermin as it causes the targeted animal undue suffering, when there are more humane options, the way it is currently unregulated is allowing abusive use my anyone with some cash and a dubious agenda.
Purchasing the poison is so easy that trying to identify the person who misuses it is tantamount to impossible. Even the way it is stored is sometimes a cause for concern as we have been on a number of locations where snail poison was being stored in a reused food jar which can easily be accessed by children and pets alike. More worrying though is the way we often see it scattered on pavements with food, sometimes without food with nothing to tell the onlooker that it is a dangerous substance and no container to prevent larger animals, humans included, to access the poison.
To anyone who has never seen the blue poison that comes in teabag-like packaging, the contants look very much like kids blue play dough. Having little sense of danger or impulse control, children could very easily pick it up and start playing with it. We all know children put things in their mouths and having been used to non-toxic play dough they are even more likely to do this with poison.
So far we have heard of the disastrous consequences to people's pets and strays. A little fuss is made about it every so often but it had to be "the best dog in Malta" to make the headlines and showcase a perfect example of the abuse of poison. It appears someone deliberately poisoned Omar Pasha di Altobello during or after the dog show held on Comino which he won. His owner, Sean Peter Azzopardi, also a member on the Animal Welfare Council, says he does not take his dog out of their property so the only time it could have happened was at the show. According to his statements to the media the vets were able to rule out all other reasons the dog might have fallen sick, thus leaving poison as the only reason. The necropsy confirmed a peace of liver in the dog's stomach which he couldn't identify as his treats and the dog was unlikely to resist. So someone at the event must have before hand planned to poison the animal, prepared his method of delivery and waited for the right opportunity to slide the dog with his yummy death sentence.
So, I wonder, will an animal welfare council member's dog being poisoned finally bring about the necessary regulations? Will more animals have to die first? or are the authorities waiting the doomful prediction to come true? God forbid a family were to loose a child before some action is taken.
Like a lot of other things in Malta, we wait for disaster to realize something could have been done to prevent it so while animals lovers sing this tune in chorus we are still waiting for the orchestra to catch up and start playing their instruments. This chorus will not be silenced.
PS: While Malta struggles to protect its animals from poisons, the Russian government has reportedly spent over 1.4 million in rounding up stary animals ahead of the FIFA World Cup Finals. The videos of poisoned dogs have already intoxicated our news feeds on social media so no matter how much the Deputy Russian Primeminister denies cruel practcies, his regional administrators are not obligated to follow federal orders. Now we know it is FIFA that gives the order to reduce/eliminate the starys but FIFA can also set humane guidelines on how this is allowed to be done and they can also identify and choose counties that already have humane and effective stray control programmes to host the upcoming events. Same goes for UEFA's Euro, the Olympics and the Winter Olympics as all these events are usually preceded by mass culling of stray animals. Make sports events cruelty-free, please!