Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ announced that a draft bill proposed to the cabinet by relevant ministries will bring prison terms for crimes against animals.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting late Monday, Bozdağ said that under the draft Animal Protection Law, torturing and killing of pets or stray animals will be punishable with prison terms.
"This is a very important amendment," Bozdağ emphasized, noting that the existing laws only impose fines for crimes against animals.
Media outlets reported that the authorities considered prison terms up to four years for offenders although details of the draft bill are not finalized yet. If approved, it will be brought before Parliament for approval.
Animal rights activists have repeatedly called for harsh sentences for perpetrators as ubiquitous security cameras and social media made crimes against animals, more visible.
There has been a public outcry in the country after a number of videos and images showing people beating, torturing stray dogs and cats emerged. After the security camera video of a man torturing a cat to death in Istanbul emerged recently, the government vowed stricter punishment for offenders.
Another new regulation will also bring more inspection for pet shops and pet owners. Under the regulation that will come into force in 2021, pet owners will be obliged to fit animals with microchip implants.
Implants will enable authorities to trace changes in the ownership of pets as well as their births and deaths. Dog owners will be required to install the pet implants starting from 2021 and cat owners will be asked to do the same from 2022.
Microchip implants will also be used to track animal vaccinations. Pet owners are also required to have a document showing the change of ownership of pets if they sell or donate them.
Those adopting strays from animal shelters will also be given official documents showing that they adopted the particular animal. In case of a pet's death or disappearance, owners will be required to notify authorities within 60 days.
The regulation aims to prevent the adoption of missing pets cared in shelters. If the original owner of a missing animal is detected - thanks to the implants - the owner will be notified by the authorities.
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