Pet adoptions is Berlusconi`s latest political strategy
Rome: Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has unveiled a scheme to boost his flagging popularity: finding homes for hundreds of thousands of stray dogs and cats to win the hearts of animal lovers, media reports said on Sunday.
"We need to find a daddy or mummy for thousands of abandoned dogs and cats," the billionaire reportedly said in a telephone call to one of his fan clubs in Rome, as he scrabbles to revive support for his centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, hit hard by his political downfall last year.
An Ixe poll carried out for Rai 3 television yesterday showed Forza Italia slip into third place behind the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five Star movement.
Mass adoptions orchestrated by Berlusconi would mean "over 10 million Italians who have a dog or cat will only be able to look on us with fondness, which will help the moderates become a strong political force, a majority," he said yesterday.
The media magnate - who was ousted from the Senate after a tax fraud conviction and is waiting to learn where he will carry out a sentence of one-year community service - also cited Mother Teresa on animal welfare, saying "if we love them as we should, we will be very close to God."
The adoptions would save USD 357,000 a year on kennels, he added.
The ploy received a tepid response from animal rights groups, with the Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment (AIDAA) pointing out that Berlusconi had seriously underestimated the number of strays in Italy, which it put at 750,000.
"We need concrete measures. Berlusconi could come and do some dog sitting for us," it told La Stampa daily, renewing an offer to have the 77-year-old serve out his community service with the association.
It is not the first time the former prime minister has resorted to dogs to boost his image. Dudu, a white Maltese terrier brought into his household by his 28-year-old girlfriend Francesca Pascale, has his own Facebook page where he promotes Forza Italia.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- DNA: Complete analysis of APJ Abdul Kalam's life and achievements
- 6 leaders were in contact with Dawood Ibrahim till 26/11: Report
- Rameswaram waits to give final salute to Dr Abdul Kalam
- Last rites of Gurdaspur attack martyr Baljit Singh in Kapurthala
- SC order on Yakub Memon huge disappointment, setback: Owaisi
- When UN declared Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's 79th birthday as World Students' Day
- APJ Abdul Kalam's funeral: Why Rameswaram was chosen over New Delhi?
- APJ Abdul Kalam's funeral to be held in Rameswaram; PM Modi to attend
- SC refuses stay on Yakub Memon's hanging: As it happened
- New SC bench to hear 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon's plea on Wednesday