Animal welfare is a priority for the government which relies on legislative action and public awareness campaigns aiming at better educating the public.
The pledge was made by President Nicos Anastasiades in a speech to the 3rd pancyprian conference of the Animal Party Cyprus, read out by Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis.
Besides the changes in legal framework already adopted as regards animal welfare, the government is continuing in consultation with the Legal Service to move forward as soon as possible with other bills dealing with issues such as the sale and possession of pets and the operation of zoos, he said.
And, awareness campaigns through a series of TV spots on responsible pet ownership aim to inform the public and will also be used by the Education Ministry at schools, he added.
The president also thanked the work of animal welfare societies for their work.
On behalf of Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, Popi Iacovou highlighted the importance of cultivating greater awareness regarding animal welfare through the education system.
And Environment Commissioner Klelia Vassiliou said the debate should not only be about pets and more specifically dogs and cats, but all living creatures.
“Many species of wildlife make our lives better, they contribute particularly to the production of clean food, water and the combination of soil and natural vegetation even in the air we breathe. Snakes, bats, foxes, hedgehogs, etc. are simply invited through their physical presence to act as cleaners of the environment with powerful mechanisms freeing us from the use of chemicals,” she said.
She noted that the current legal framework governing the protection and welfare of animals is fully harmonized with the European legislation and a number of measures aimed at further strengthening and protecting animal welfare have been taken, by the Council of Ministers in the past two years.
“However, there is still much to be done because laws alone are not enough,” she said.
Animal welfare volunteers have been struggling to cope with thousands of abandoned dogs. The Council on Ministers recently approved the setting up a special unit within the police force to deal with animal abuse, a long standing demand of animal welfare activists, while the government has also unveiled programmes to neuter cats and microchip dogs.
But progress is slow and animal shelters continue to be overwhelmed with abandoned dogs.