Family cleared of animal cruelty over pet dog's ear cropping – Times of Malta

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A couple and their son have been cleared of animal cruelty after the police failed to prove they were responsible for their pet dog’s ear cropping.
Investigations against Josephine and Andrew Magri and their son Kelvin were sparked by information passed to police by the animal welfare commissioner about a suspect case of a dog subjected to the banned practice of ear cropping.
The information allegedly lifted off a Facebook page, consisted of images of the animal before and after.
Animal welfare officers managed to track down the whereabouts of the animal, finding that it was being kept in very good conditions, even living in air-conditioned surroundings.
The pet manifested none of the wounds or signs normally indicative of animal cruelty.
Kelvin Magri had claimed ownership of the dog, explaining that it had been brought home by his father.
He denied responsibility for the animal’s cropped ears and said the dog was that way when it was first taken home. If it was the same animal featured in those photos, then the copping must have been someone else’s doing.
All he admitted to was that the dog had not been duly registered and licensed in terms of law.
When delivering judgment on Thursday, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud condemned the practice of ear cropping and said that the court would have declared this as animal cruelty had the prosecution managed to prove its case.
But the prosecution failed to prove that this ear cropping was done by any of the accused, nor did it manage to identify who was actually responsible.
The prosecution had relied solely on information supplied by animal welfare.
A person may choose to undergo plastic surgery either for medical reasons or to alter one’s natural looks, but in the case of animals this was not their choice but that of whoever exercised possession over the animal, observed Magistrate Mifsud.
The court could not figure out why people chose to subject pets to such surgery so as to alter an animal’s natural docile features, making it seem aggressive.
Animal cruelty could take various forms, such as animals used for entertainment purposes such as in races, circuses, dog and cock fights and protests, those sacrificed to produce fashion items, and others used in scientific testing.
Uncontrolled overdevelopment also led to the destruction of natural habitats and many wild animals, observed the court.
Turning to the case at hand, the court noted that the prosecution had not proved the source of the photos of the dog with cropped ears, nor had the  police managed to link those images to the Facebook page of any of the accused.
Moreover, animal welfare had confirmed that the dog in question was “very well cared for.”
Faced with “an almost absolute lack of evidence” the court cleared all three accused of all charges except for the son landing a €300 fine for admitting outright that the pet had not been duly registered and licenced in terms of electronic identification of dogs regulations.
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