More than 250,000 dogs are abandoned every year in Cyprus, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Cspca) Toula Poyiadji said on Monday.
Speaking in a press conference in Nicosia on animal welfare, Poyiadji argued that the current situation is worse than ever. She added that all animal shelters are overcrowded and stray dogs are left to wander around in mountain areas, the buffer zone, villages and cities where they come in contact with domesticated animals.
“Malnourished and abused dogs devour moufflons, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and even cats. The rabies outbreak, as well as the reappearance of echinococcus, does not seem to worry the Veterinary Services and the competent Ministry,” she added.
Poyiadji stressed that animals have rights and that international treaties were drafted to protect them and to ensure that when they have to be put down, this should be done without causing them pain and panic.
She noted that the Republic of Cyprus signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection and Welfare of Animals in 1990 and in 1994 it enacted it through national legislation.
“The authorities responsible for the protection and welfare of animals are understaffed or non-existent. Local authorities have so far failed to enforce the law,” she added.
“There are no checks over the conditions under which dogs are kept. No control whatsoever over breeding. Dogs belonging to high-risk breeds are bred and sold without oversight,” Poyiadji stressed.
Referring to the government’s decision to create five new dog shelters – one in each city – Poyiadji said that the state cannot understand that shelters will not solve the problem, as there are thousands of stray dogs in Cyprus.
“They (the state) have never bothered to see whether the law is enforced. An issue that is directly linked to public health and safety, the economy, tourism, society, culture, and human dignity. They ignore our letters and our protests,” she added, noting that stray dogs that are not easy to catch are killed with the use of firearms by authorities, in violation of the law for the protection of animals.
“There are thousands of cases of abused dogs who live in deplorable conditions, in small cages made of tin, where they cannot move and suffer the summer heat and winter cold. Neglected, without food and water, they die helplessly at the hands of their cruel and heartless owners,” she said.
Population of cats also out of control
Poyiadji also referred to the increasing number of stray cats in Cyprus.
“The government subsidy for the sterilisation of stray cats, handed out once a year has not helped at all. Cyprus is filled with cats that many people do not want and poison them,” she added.
She noted that poisonings affect all animals and added that there are hundreds of cases of animal poisoning every day.
Cspca has handed a list of recommendations to authorities and the President of the Republic with suggestions on how to improve the implementation of the relevant legislation, without extra financial cost for the state.
Their recommendations, she said, involve the creation of a uniformed corps, staffed by contract workers who will be trained accordingly, to carry out visits at houses, fields, farms livestock facilities and elsewhere to investigate complaints.
“They will be assisted by local authorities and police where needed. Members of the body will have the right to issue out-of-court fines to those who violate the law. At the same time, a period of a few days will be allowed, depending on the case, for owners to comply. Under no circumstances should the implementation of the law be limited to advise only,” Poyiadji said.
Other measures that could help ameliorate the situation are increasing the license fee for unneutered dogs, as well as the creation of a special fund financed by fines collected from violations of the animal welfare law. This money will be allocated for spaying cats and neutering as well as covering the health care costs of injured animals.
“We call on the new President of the Republic of Cyprus to take this unacceptable and harming situation for our country, very seriously, and provide immediate and drastic solutions,” Poyiadji concluded.
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