We all love summer, and some of our beloved pups do too – which is why Animal Commissioner Alison Bezzina is calling for more pet-friendly beaches in Malta and Gozo, so that our local pups can enjoy the sea just as much as we do!
At the time of writing, there are nine beaches across the Islands that welcome dogs; seven in Malta and two in Gozo. They’re also allowed to swim anywhere that is not a designated bathing area unless a specific Local Council By-Law prohibits it.
However, Bezzina says that whilst health must be prioritised, since dogs are banned from most beaches due to the bacteria from their waste, the country ‘undoubtedly…needs more dog-friendly beaches’.
She went on to explain that discussions are currently ongoing with different authorities in an effort to increase the number of pet-friendly beaches.
‘If we truly expect people living in the Maltese Islands to treat their dogs as family members, it cannot remain so difficult to take dogs swimming with the rest of the family,’ she said.
If owners break any of these dog beach bans, they must face a hefty fine – ranging from €232 to €4,658 – and/or not less than six months imprisonment. On second conviction the fine goes up to a minimum of €465 and a maximum of €11,646 and/or not less than two years imprisonment.
Bezzina also conducted a study wherein she highlights the accessibility and size of the bay for each pet-friendly beach in the Islands, and whether it is ideal for small, big, or all-sized dogs. Rinella Bay, for instance, is the smallest dog-friendly beach on the island, whereas Xatt is-Sajjieda in Marsaxlokk isn’t ideal for small dogs.
Other pet-friendly beaches include; Tigne Point, Sliema; Baħar Ic-Caħaq (Behind Splash and Fun); Imġiebaħ Bay, Selmun; Daħlet Ix-Xmajjar, Armier; Zonqor Point, Marsascala; Horizon Bay, limits of Xwejni area; and Trejqet Mgarr Ix-Xini, Għajnsielem.
A decision is expected to come from the Environmental Health Directorate and Superintendence of Public Health upon suggestions made by the Animal Welfare Directorate. This falls in line with WHO guidelines, which show that bacteria from dog waste may affect bathing water quality and could potentially put people’s health at risk.
Do you think our local pups need more room to swim?