In Italy, 33% of the people share their homes with one or more pets: 63.1% of them with a dog and 41% with a cat (source: EURISPES 2015).
LAV has produced a short guide to help people establish correct relationships with their animals: “Yes for a lifetime” (“Il SI' per tutta la vita”) offers practical advice that everyone should read before bringing a pet home. The rights and duties associated with sharing life with our furry friends are set out clearly, in a simple language. Living with an animal, in fact, is a serious commitment, it is a choice that should be pondered thoughtfully. To the same end, we also wrote “Caring for cats and dogs” and “Cats and dogs, coexistence instructions”, produced in collaboration with the Province of Rome.
Ignoring the daily commitment entailed by adopting an animal, in fact, may have devastating consequences, such as abandonment: it is estimated that in Italy about 80,000 cats and 50,000 dogs are abandoned every year, and more than 80% of them are at risk of dying in accidents, from starvation or abuse and cruelty. And this tragedy continues despite the fact that in Italy abandonment is a crime (Law 189/2004), punished with up to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to 10,000 Euros.
LAV pushes for social and legislative changes to improve the coexistence of humans and animals. Encouraging registration with the dog birth register and the application of microchips, promoting the adoption and sterilisation of cats and dogs, ensuring that pets can access public places, green areas and holiday accommodations: these are some of initiatives undertaken to foster a serene coexistence, discourage abandonment and reduce animal homelessness .
Some people have made lifelong animal imprisonment a veritable business. Notwithstanding Law 281/91 identifies animal protection associations as the subjects that must be given precedence in granting dog shelter management licences, unfortunately, private facilities have been established all over Italy whose aim is to keep as many animals as possible for as long as possible: confined in crowded, rundown structures, with barely enough food to survive, hundreds of dogs secure huge profits for people without scruples.
LAV monitors dog shelters and in recent years has denounced many facilities, such as the Parrelli cats and dogs shelter in Rome, which was sequestered by the Public Prosecutors Office of Rome for severe abuse committed against ca 357 dogs and 118 cats. LAV took over the animals' care, provided treatment for their physical and psychological recovery, and found a home for almost all of them.
Italy is also a point of arrival for pet trafficking, with most of the animals coming from Eastern European countries. Kittens and puppies are imported illegally after a journey that may last up to 10-11 hours, closed in boxes or bags, hidden in car trunks, in vans or trucks. Way back in 2001 LAV began denouncing the problem and in 2008 launched a campaign against pet traffickers which resulted in the approval, two years later, of Law 201/2010, the first law in Europe to make companion animal trafficking a crime. Since then, it has led to numerous arrests and seizures.