The Australian Government has decided to end its policy of euthanising unwanted dogs and pets on Christmas Eve and the following days.
The announcement was made on Thursday after the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was briefed on the new policy by the Minister for the Environment, Josh Frydenberg.
“The Government will continue to be a leader in animal welfare,” the statement said.
“As an Australian, I have always been proud of our compassionate and compassionate treatment of all our animals.
We will continue this approach, including on Christmas Day, and the first and last of December.”
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minster said: “The Government recognises that there are many issues surrounding the humane handling of animals on Christmas, including the adoption of dogs and the care and treatment of pets.”
“The Prime Minister and his cabinet are working with stakeholders and will make a decision in the coming weeks on the appropriate action to take.”
Animal welfare organisations welcomed the announcement.
“We are thrilled that the Government has finally recognized the importance of this important holiday and the value of our pets, especially in times of such significant public concern,” said Sophie Maughan, from the Australian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
“The introduction of a holiday to honour the animals, particularly the dogs, has been long overdue.
We are pleased to see the Government take action.”
She said that although the legislation had not yet been implemented, the animal welfare community would continue to push for it to be.
“This will be a significant day for Australian society as the animal rescue movement, Animal Liberation and the Australian Pet Rescue Association have also called on the Government to do more to protect animals from euthanasia,” she said.
The number of unwanted dogs that have been euthanased in the country rose from more than 700 in 2012 to nearly 1,000 in 2017.
The new legislation will take effect from January 1 and will see dogs and their owners euthanase on Christmas day, and from December 25 until January 3.