x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Lebanon president signs country's first animal welfare bill into law

The bill is the culmination of years of lobbying for the protection of animals, the Animals Lebanon NGO said

Lebanese president Michel Aoun (centre) plays with a dog in the garden of the Baabda presidential palace on August 29, 2017, after signing the country's first animal welfare bill into law. Anwar Amro / AFP
Lebanese president Michel Aoun (centre) plays with a dog in the garden of the Baabda presidential palace on August 29, 2017, after signing the country's first animal welfare bill into law. Anwar Amro / AFP

Lebanese president Michel Aoun on Tuesday signed the country's first animal welfare bill into law, guaranteeing that domestic and wild animals will be legally protected from abuse.

The bill is the culmination of years of lobbying for the protection of animals in the country, the Animals Lebanon NGO said.

The group's executive director, Jason Mier, said it was "a great day for Lebanon" and its animals.

"With this law, Lebanon's regulations are as strict, if not stricter, than other laws in the region," he said.

Read more: UAE law on wild animal possession 'a milestone', activists say

The law, passed by parliament on August 16, outlines requirements for keeping domestic pets, regulations for zoos and pet shops, and penalties for violations — including jail time and fines.

It also outlaws abusing pets or owning wild or endangered animals.

The trade of rare animals is big business in Lebanon, where prized tigers and lions are often locked in cramped cages, forced to perform in circuses, and paraded by wealthy individuals as status symbols.

But animals more traditionally kept as household pets — including cats, dogs, and rabbits — are also often subject to abuse by unregulated zoos, pet shops, and breeders in the country.

"When we used to monitor violations [in the past], we always felt that we didn't have a strong legal basis that we could lean on," said Animals Lebanon's lawyer, Rania Saghieh.

"The importance of this law is that we can cover all institutions that care for and maintain animals."