Italy Takes Tough Stance on Pet Abandonment: New Highway Code Amendment Targets Reckless Motorists

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Fernetti border. Photo credits Keiron Mayora
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by InTrieste

In a significant move, Italy’s transport committee gave the green light to a game-changing amendment to the highway code last week. The amendment, primarily championed by the right-wing Lega party, is set to intensify penalties for drivers caught abandoning their furry companions along the roadside while heading out on vacation.

Under the freshly approved measures, drivers in Italy who callously desert their pets now face the grim prospect of having their driving license suspended or even revoked. The Lega party, which proposed the amendment last summer, emphasizes the severity of the issue by incorporating strict consequences for irresponsible pet owners.

The amendment explicitly outlines that if the abandonment of a dog results in a traffic accident, causing injuries or fatalities, the person responsible could potentially face a daunting seven-year prison sentence, as reported by La Stampa.

A joint statement released last week by a group of Lega parliamentarians condemned the escalating trend of pet abandonment as an “uncivilized phenomenon” that has reached “unacceptable numbers,” especially during the summer season. The statement goes on to express hope that the stringent measures will act as a deterrent against what they describe as “barbaric, dangerous, and criminal practices.”

Lega’s leader and deputy Italian premier, Matteo Salvini, passionately addressed the senate last July, denouncing pet abandonment as “an act of absolute barbarism and incivility.” Salvini further highlighted the potential risks to public safety, emphasizing that such actions could jeopardize the well-being of those on the road.

The gravity of the issue is underscored by the staggering estimate that around 71,000 dogs were abandoned in Italy in 2022, according to data released by the Italian environmental lobby group Legambiente last year. As part of an annual awareness campaign last summer, Italy’s police issued a stark reminder that abandoning an animal is considered a crime, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and fines ranging from €1,000 to €10,000.

With the new amendment to the highway code, Italy is taking a bold step to curb this heart-wrenching and alarming trend, sending a clear message that the nation will not tolerate such callous disregard for the well-being of our four-legged companions.

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