After an acrimonious public consultation, the bill on animal welfare that will be put to a vote in Parliament this week provides incentives for owners to neuter their pets but does not make it mandatory as stated in the original draft.
The new bill now provides an alternative for owners who do not wish to neuter their pet. After registering their animal with a microchip, which is mandatory, their veterinarian must send a sample of genetic material to a laboratory that will log the information on a new registry of pet DNA that will be kept by the Institute of Biological Research at the Academy of Athens.
This aims to ensure that even if newborns are abandoned, as is often the case, it will be easy to trace the parents through their DNA. This trail will also lead back to the owners, who will then face the sanctions provided in the bill.
Pets, meanwhile, will be allowed to have one litter with permission granted by a five-member committee that will be created in each municipality. The committee is expected to include representatives of animal welfare associations and the municipality, a veterinarian and a professional trainer.
The new rules are expected to take effect from March 2022 with the imposition of administrative and criminal sanctions from September 2023.
The changes to the original bill were deemed necessary by the government in order for the new regulations to be widely accepted, as the provision that imposed mandatory sterilization for all pets – even those that have never had a litter – sparked a backlash from animal welfare groups, hunters and many veterinarians.
The bill has also added the term “amateur breeders” for those who breed purebred dogs in domestic conditions.