Monica Cirinna, the city councillor responsible for animal welfare
"The civilisation of a city can be measured by the way it looks after its pets.
It is good to do whatever we can for our pets, who fill our existence with their attention in exchange for a little love."
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2005 6:12 PM
Subject: It's walkies or else
It's walkies or else, as Rome dogs exercise their rights
From Richard Owen in Rome
IF YOU have a tendency to ignore your dog's obvious longing for a walk, think yourself lucky that you're not in Rome. From now on the city's dog-owners not only have to take their pets for regular walks but also will be fined if they don't.
The Italians are not noted for keeping pets. However, a new Rome city bylaw aimed at protecting domestic animals includes not only the dog-walking regulation but also a ban on keeping goldfish in bowls - described as "cruel" - and on docking petsí tails and ears. Officials said that the goldfish bowl ban had been imposed because the bowls provided insufficient oxygen and could make the fish go blind.
Offenders face fines of between Euro 50 and Euro 500 (£34 and £340). Other offences under the new rules include keeping pets locked in cars in hot weather- in Rome that can be very hot indeed - or in shop windows. Also out are trimming cats' claws for aesthetic purposes, making pets wear electric or choke collars and offering animals, including goldfish in plastic bags , as prizes at fairgrounds. In addition, kittens and puppies may not be separated from their mothers before they are two months old.
Monica Cirinna, the city councillor responsible for animal welfare, said: "The civilisation of a city can be measured by the way it looks after its pets. It is good to do whatever we can for our pets, who fill our existence with their attention in exchange for a little love."
There are about 150,000 dogs and 300,000 cats in Roman households, as well as 72 species of caged bird and an unknown number of reptiles and amphibians. Rome has also many stray cats, which live among the city's ruins and even feature on picture postcards and calendars.
After years of campaigning by cat lovers, a sanctuary for strays has been set up in the ruins of Roman temples in Largo di Torre Argentina, a central square. The new regulations finally acknowledge the role of the gattare (cat ladies), who feed and care for colonies of stray cats.
The city council's Animal Rights Office said that it would recruit new staff to work alongside the municipal police, although some fear that that will encourage people to snoop on their neighbours.
Residents of Rome, however, appeared to take the new rules in their stride yesterday. "I exercise my dog regularly anyway," said a woman walking her labrador on the Tiber embankment.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that it was particularly impressed by the goldfish bowl ban, which meant that Rome had "gone further protecting fish than anywhere else in the world".