Moving to ease concerns, the Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday that a bill to amend the dog law in Cyprus was a draft that can be amended to take into the consideration suggestions made during the public consultation currently underway.
Publication of the draft bill that among other proposes limiting the number of dogs per house to two has sparked a range of reactions, particularly on social media.
Many took issue with the restriction on the number of dogs an owner can have at home to two (one for apartments), while others noted that more emphasis should be given to tackling animal abuse and ensuring adequate facilities for strays.
In a written announcement on Thursday the ministry that it was taking all the concerns and views voiced in the media and on social media as regards the draft bill seriously into consideration.
“At the same time, the ministry clarifies that the bill that is under public consultation is a draft text that was drawn up with the contribution of the competent services of the public sector, including local authorities, which are directly affected.
“This text can be revised on the basis of documented suggestions and opinions that will be submitted within the framework of the public consultation,” it said.
Beyond a restriction on the number of dogs that can be kept at home, the draft bill also proposes prohibiting keeping them on balconies.
Irresponsible dog owners who do not pick up after their dogs will liable to a fine of €300. A similar fine will be imposed if owners allow their dogs to circulate in public areas off the leash.
And all dogs will be required to wear a collar with the number of their dog licence and contact details of the owner.
The proposed bill follows a pledge by Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis to improve animal welfare. The draft bill still needs to go through the public consultation stage before being finalised and sent to parliament for approval.
The draft law provides for steeper out of court fines of up to €2000 and increase in prison to up to 12 months for a first offence, rising to up to two years in the event of a second conviction. If owners do not comply, authorities will be allowed to confiscate the dogs.
There will be a limit of a maximum of two dogs per house and one per apartment, but provision is made for owners who have more dogs when the law comes into force to be allowed keep them.
All dogs over two months will have to wear a collar with the number of their dog licence and the contact details of the owner. Failure to obtain a licence will be punishable with a fine of €100. There is provision also for a €100 fine for failing to microchip your dog.
Failure to take the necessary steps to ensure your dog does not create a nuisance from barking carries a €200 fine. Keeping a dog in conditions which pose a danger to public health will be punishable with a fine of €200 as will failure to provide the appropriate housing conditions for your dog.
Failure to take the necessary measures to prevent a dog from escaping the house or abandoning a dog also carries a €200 fine. There are fines too for keeping or breeding dogs which are on the list of dangerous, prohibited dogs.
Training or using dogs in fights carry an out of court fine of €1000.
Should a dog injure a person or another animal, it is liable to being confiscated and euthanised.
The draft bill also prohibits keeping dogs on balconies. They can be kept in the garden of a house provided the fencing is high enough to prevent them leaving.