Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo handpicked a Pomeranian dog that had just been confiscated from an alleged abuser to gift to a constituent, a leading animal rights activist has warned.

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The case, which Maxine Borg flagged over the weekend. It goes back to November 2021, when Animal Welfare officers confiscated around 20 dogs. So, many of them were of the Pomeranian breed, from a residence in Pieta’ after an animal welfare inspection found them not to be living in good condition.

Borg said that shortly after the raid. Refalo handpicked one of these dogs, a brown Pomeranian called Kikka and handed it to a Gozitan family.

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

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The family gave the dog to an old woman

This family eventually gave the dog to an older woman in Qala who reported it missing last weekend.

It turned out that a man had found Kikka and delivered her straight to the Gozo offices of Animal Welfare. Where analysis of its microchip found it was registered to the man accused of abusing dogs in Pieta’.

However, Borg said that the Gozitan Animal Welfare staff didn’t even know. That Maltese Animal Welfare officials had confiscated a bunch of dogs. From this man, less than a year ago and promptly handed Kikka back to him.

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The woman handed the dog over to the police

The activist said that while the older woman filed a police report, the police were reluctant to get involved since Animal Welfare had already returned the dog to its registered owner.

Borg said it was now up to Refalo to do whatever it took to take Kikka out of her registered owner’s hands. And clarify whether she was the only dog he had taken from the haul of confiscated pets.

Protocol states that following a raid, all confiscated animals must be immediately taken to the animal hospital to check their microchips and registration. From then on, they are officially in the custody of Animal Welfare until the court case against the owner is over and his guilt or lack thereof is established.

Until the court case is over, Animal Welfare cannot put these animals up for adoption. Although they are allowed to put them up for fostering. 

“Why did the minister interfere in this case at all?” Borg told Lovin Malta. “Anton Refalo made this mess, and now it is up to him to get Kikka back.”

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

However, in a since-deleted comment under a Facebook post. A member of the original Gozitan family said that Refalo “assisted” them. To adopt Kikka but that the fault lies in the law, not the minister.  

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina told Times of Malta that an investigation had been opened to track. The whereabouts and welfare of all dogs seized by animal welfare officials.

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