Malta's first 'dog park' will open today at Ta' Qali national park.
The 1,000 square metre facility has a range of play equipment for dogs including cover tunnels, weave poles, dog teeter – tooter, hound hoops, hurdle jumps, hound hurdles, agility walk and dog walk ramps. There are places for the dogs to drink, as well as bins.
The park will open from tomorrow between 6.30 and 11.30pm (summer ) and between 6.30 and7.30pm (winter)
The Resources Ministry, which set up the park, said the facility followed-up its decision that families should be allowed to take their dogs to the National Park, except for the adventure park.
It said the park followed a string of other initiatives for animal welfare including the the setting up of the Animal Welfare Department four years ago, the provision of a 24-hour animal ambulance - a service which has so far collected 3,500 animals, assistance to animal sanctuaries and the opening of Centru San Frangisk. In its first year the centre assisted 14,000 animal.
The Animal Welfare Department made arraignments in 24 cases of animal cruelty .
The ministry also pointed out that the process had also started for the micro-chipping of dogs. Work has started on new shelters for karozzini horses in Valletta. The government has also offered scholarships to veterinarians.
The new dog park will be inaugurated by Resources Minister George Pullicino.
PL POINTS TO SHORTCOMINGS
Meanwhile, the Labour Party said the state of the Animal Welfare Department left a lot to be desired.
Spokesman Gino Cauchi said the government's own standards were not being reached and four dogs were being kept in places meant for just one. There were 13 dogs in a structure meant for six.
There was a similar situation with regard to cats, and the department had handed 80 cats to an individual in order to ease the pressure.
Mr Cauchi said the department was understaffed. As a result, inspections were not being made and there were delays in assisting injured animals. Gozo was still without such a service.
On Centru San Frangisk , Mr Cauchi said this was being run by the private sector and it was charging commercial rates. Yet the government subsidised its power and water rates.
The Labour spokesman also said that the dog micro-chipping process was late and the price, at €23 was too high.
The dog park, he said, was a good idea and more were needed.