Protect your pup, learn the Italian dog laws

Kika, U.S. Army 525th Military Working Dog Detachment MWD, prepares to enter a room during a working dog training in Venice, Italy, July 8, 2016 The U.S. Air Force 31st Security Forces Squadron, Venezia Polizia Locale and 525th MWD Detachment train together as often as possible share best practices and increase interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal Ardrey/Released)

Kika, U.S. Army 525th Military Working Dog Detachment MWD, prepares to enter a room during a working dog training in Venice, Italy, July 8, 2016. Everyone who resides in Italy must follow the local laws regarding animal protection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal Ardrey/Released)


All Team Aviano dog owners need to be aware of the host nation laws protecting their four-legged friends.


It is important to stay familiar with these local regulations to keep your canine companion safe and avoid unnecessary trouble with the law.


“The law which protects animals in Italy may be stricter than the one you experienced back in the states,” said Sonia Posocco, 31st Fighter Wing legal office Italian legal assistant.


According to Italian Law 20/2012 - Animal Protection , the responsibilities of a person who has an animal in their care are as follows:


They must provide adequate shelter for the animal as well as food and water. If kept on a balcony, in a basement or garage, the dog must be able to enter the house. It is also mandatory for the dog to get appropriate exercise.


The appropriate exercise for dogs kept in an apartment is that it must be walked at least twice a day. Dogs kept in a yard that measures at least 1291.67 square feet does not need to be walked every day. However, if the yard is smaller than this it will need to be taken out once a day.


It is the pet owner’s responsibility to ensure the physical well-being of the animal as well as preventing its escape from the yard.


To prevent escape, some may keep their dog on a chain. However, the law prohibits keeping a dog on a chain for more than eight hours a day. The chain must meet safety requirements such as being 15 feet long with rotating spring catches that allow the dog to move freely, be attached to a rope raised at least six and a half feet in the air and allow the dog to easily reach food, water and shelter.


Whether indoors or outdoors, dogs cannot be kept in crates for long periods of time. According to Posocco, the only time animals should be kept in a crate is if there is a reason they need to be confined, such as a recent surgery or transportation.


Also, because animals cannot be left to freely move around a vehicle, they must be crated, kept in the back by a barrier or otherwise restrained to not interfere with the driver.


“This applies to small dogs also,” said Posocco. “If you don’t have the possibility to divide the car into spaces for the driver and the dog, use a crate.”


If walking a dog in a public area, make sure that large dogs are walked only by individuals older than 18 years old and the dog must be kept on a leash shorter than 5 feet in length. The owner must also have a muzzle with them and have a way to collect and dispose of the dog’s feces.


It is prohibited to use shock collars in Italy.


The only time a dog doesn’t need to be kept on leash is in an area specifically meant to be used by dogs, such as a dog park.


Violating any laws related to animal protection could result with the owner facing fines or criminal charges.


The punishment for maltreatment of animals could result in up to 18 months confinements or a fine up to 30,000 euros. These punishments increase if the animal dies from maltreatment. A person can also be arrested or charged with a 1,000 to 10,000 euros fine if they abandon an animal.


“If it is impossible, for whatever reason, to keep the dog, the best thing is to find someone who can adopt the dog,” said Posocco. “If you cannot do that or keep it with you, you have to pay to put it in a shelter.”


If you have any questions regarding animal protection laws in Italy, contact the base legal office at 0434-30-7843.