Pet adoptions could be made simpler by setting up a website where anyone seeking to adopt an animal would find a list of all cats and dogs in need of a home, Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina is recommending.

This would help address the overpopulation of animals in sanctuaries and free up space for rescues, she said.

This was one of the recent proposals put forward to the Animal Rights Ministry by Bezzina who took on her role almost a year ago.

Since then she has made various recommendations, one of which led to a change in the law whereby the courts can now ban someone found guilty of animal cruelty from keeping animals.

Speaking on World Animal Day, Bezzina said that one of the pressing issues that had to be addressed in terms of animal welfare was the overpopulation of strays, many of which ended up in sanctuaries that are now full to the brim.

This is why she is also recommending a state-funded neutering campaign.

Until then, there remained the challenge of finding a home for the existing strays.

“The problem is that the supply of potential pets far outweighs the demand in terms of people seeking to adopt. I wish to see the day where having a pet is a luxury and not a commodity,” she said.

One of the hurdles of getting people to adopt from sanctuaries, as opposed to buying a pet, was the complex and time-consuming process.

Currently  those interested in adopting a cat or dog have to contact the different sanctuaries separately, ask if they have animals that match their requirements, make arrangements to visit the sanctuaries, and hope to find a good match.

Creating a website, where all sanctuaries can upload basic

information about animals in need of a home, would make things faster and smoother and save time for sanctuaries.

Apart from having photos and videos of the animals, the sanctuaries would also mark different key variables to describe the animal – such as age, gender, size/weight, temperament, medical needs, good with kids, good with cats/dogs etc.

In turn, potential adopters visiting this portal would also mark their preferred variables and the system would automatically match them with available animals that match their criteria.

The portal would be just the first step in the adoption process, which would then be followed by physical checks, home assessments, and trials run by the sanctuaries themselves, as is the current normal process.

To mark World Animal Day today there will also be the first-ever Animal Honour Awards where 10 animals and 10 people will be recognised for their contribution to animal welfare.

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