Italy’s Ministry of Health has taken a decisive stance against the burgeoning trend of "puppy yoga," citing concerns over potential exploitation and mistreatment of the animals involved. The ban, announced by Giovanni Leonardi, head of the One Health department, underscores the country's commitment to upholding animal welfare standards.

Puppy yoga, a popular wellness activity, typically involves adorable canines freely roaming around a yoga class and sometimes being incorporated into yoga poses. However, the Ministry of Health has raised alarms about the welfare of these animals, prompting a reevaluation of the practice.

Leonardi's ruling, issued on Tuesday, invokes Italy’s Animal Assisted Interventions act, which now restricts the participation of only adult dogs in yoga sessions. This regulatory move aims to safeguard the health and well-being of the animals, as well as ensure the safety of participants.

The decision follows a high-profile investigation by the Italian news program “Striscia la Notizia” in March, which alleged instances of mistreatment of puppies at various yoga centers. Shocking revelations emerged, suggesting that the young dogs were subjected to unfavorable conditions, including being kept in pens between sessions.

In response to these distressing findings, the Animal rights charity Lega Nazionale per la Difesa del Cane (National League for the Defense of Dogs) lodged a formal complaint with the Italian health ministry. In documents reviewed by CNN, the organization decried the treatment of the puppies, likening it to the handling of mere gymnastics equipment rather than living beings deserving of care and respect.

The ministry's decisive action reflects a growing recognition of the ethical implications surrounding animal-assisted activities. By prioritizing the welfare of these vulnerable creatures, Italy sets a precedent for responsible engagement with animals in wellness practices, advocating for a more compassionate and conscientious approach to such activities.