Today marked a historic turn for animal rights in Lebanon as it was confirmed that Lebanese President Michel Aoun signed the country’s first animal welfare bill into law.
The long-overdue legislation, which was passed by Parliament on August 16, 2017, was designed to ensure that domestic and wild animals are legally protected from abuse.
Animals Lebanon, a local non-profit that improves the welfare of animals through comprehensive national animal protection and welfare legislation, had been lobbying for the protection of animals in the Mediterranean country for years.
The organization took to Facebook to share the monumental news.
“President signs animal welfare law into effect! It’s official! Done! Final! Finished!” exclaimed the post. “With the signature of His Excellency President Michel Aoun, the Animal Protection and Welfare Law is enacted and today animal abuse is illegal in Lebanon!”
“This is a great day for Lebanon, for Animals Lebanon, and most importantly for the animals.”
Previously, according to Animals Lebanon’s lawyer Rania Saghieh, it was difficult to uphold noted violations in the past but that is expected to substantially change now with the new law in place.
The law outlines requirements for keeping domestic pets, regulations for zoos and pet shops, and penalties for violations, including jail time and fines.
Finally, animal abuse is now officially illegal according to the law that also declares that it is also against the law to own wild or endangered animals.
The trade and mistreatment of rare animals have long been known to be “big business” in Lebanon where they are often forced to perform in circuses or treated as possessions by the wealthy.
Equally tragic, and less recognized, is the fact that domestic animals such as dogs and cats are also often exploited by unregulated zoos, pet shops, and breeders in the country.