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Motorists in Italy who abandon dogs risk losing driving licence

New penalties in Italy for motorists who abandon pets.

Italy's transport committee on Wednesday approved an amendment to the highway code to tighten penalties on motorists who abandon their dogs by the roadside when going on vacation.


Under the new measures, first proposed by the rightwing Lega party last summer, drivers in Italy who abandon their pets could risk having their driving licence suspended or revoked.


The amendment also states that if the abandonment of a dog by the roadside leads to a traffic accident that results in deaths or injuries, the person who abandoned the dog could face up to seven years in prison, La Stampa reports.


In a statement on Wednesday, a group of Lega parliamentarians said the "uncivilised phenomenon" of abandoning dogs has reached "unacceptable numbers", particularly in the summer, concluding: "We hope that these measures can have a deterrent effect on barbaric, dangerous and criminal practices".

Lega leader and deputy Italian premier Matteo Salvini told the senate last July that in addition to being "an act of absolute barbarism and incivility", abandoning pets by the roadside "also risks jeopardising the safety of those travelling".


An estimated 71,000 dogs were abandoned in Italy in 2022, according to figures released last year by Italian environmental lobby group Legambiente.


As part of an annual awareness campaign last summer, Italy's police issued a reminder that abandoning an animal is a crime, with penalties of up to one year in prison and fines from €1,000 to €10,000.


To learn about the process of adopting a dog in Rome, see our guide.
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