"Abandoned dogs exceed 250.000 a year"

"The situation today is worse than ever"

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The abandonment of dogs exceeds 250.000 a year, said the President of the Cyprus Society for the Protection of Animals, Toula Pogiatzi, adding that the situation today is worse than ever.

Speaking at today's press conference, in Nicosia, on the subject of animal abuse in Cyprus, Mrs. Pogiatzi said that all but one of the dog shelters are suffocatingly full, while packs of stray dogs roam the mountains, villages, cities, livestock areas and the dead zone where they come into contact with animals from the occupied territories.

"Malnutrified, abused as they are, they devour wild animals, hens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and even cats. The case of the occurrence of rabies and the reappearance of echinococcus does not seem to concern the Veterinary Services and the competent Ministry", he added.

He also mentioned that animals have rights for this and international Conventions have been made for their protection and welfare and where necessary their killing should be done in a way that does not cause them pain, fear and suffering.

He noted that the Republic of Cyprus signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection and Welfare of Animals in 1990 and in 1994 put it into force with special national legislation with no. 46(1)94 and added that there is also the Law on Dogs , which had been amended to be consistent with both the Council of Europe Convention and Law 46(1)94. In 2002, Ms. continued. Pogiatzis, the amendments came into force and became more binding for dog owners.

He said, at the same time, that the competent authorities for the protection and welfare of animals are the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment and the Veterinary Services, while a special police force for animals was recently created. Competent authorities, he continued, for the law on dogs are the Local Authorities.

"The above competent authorities for the protection and welfare of animals are under-functioning or non-existent. In the few cases where they do respond and inspect the premises where the complaint was made, they are limited to advice only. The Local Authorities have so far failed to implement the law. The Community Authorities admit and declare that they cannot apply the law because of the close relationship or acquaintances that exist between residents and the Community Authority", he added.

He also noted that most dogs are not marked or registered.

"There is no control over the conditions of detention of dogs by their owners. Absolutely no playback control. Dogs belonging to the dangerous breeds are bred and sold uncontrollably - by law they should have been neutered. These are the most basic provisions in the Dog Act which, if implemented, would prevent uncontrolled possession, breeding and abandonment," he added.

Referring to the Government's decision to create five more shelters, one in each province, for stray dogs, Mrs. Pogiatzis said that unfortunately, the authorities, the state, cannot realize that shelters will not solve the problem of thousands of stray dogs.

"They never even bothered whether the state laws in this area are enforced. A field directly linked to public health and safety, the economy, tourism, society, culture, human dignity, etc. They ignore our letters and our protests", he added and noted that stray dogs that are not easy to catch are exterminated with firearms by the Community Authorities, even by the Game Fund, violating provisions of the Animal Protection and Welfare Act.

"Thousands of abuses of dogs who live under miserable conditions, small cages that do not allow them to move, made of tin where in the summer they are baked by the heat and in the winter they get cold. Neglected, without food and water they die helpless by their cruel and heartless owners,” he said.

Ms. Pogiatzi said, at the same time, that the breeding of cats is also completely uncontrolled.

“The government's once-a-year spaying and neutering of stray cats has not helped at all. Cyprus is full of cats that are unwanted by most residents and poison them," he added.

He noted that poisons are a scourge for all kinds of animals, not just pets. As he mentioned, there are hundreds of poisonings every day.

"So many years have passed since the above laws came into force and none of the Presidents, Competent Ministers, Directors of Veterinary Services touched the issue of animal protection, did not respect the Council of Europe Convention signed by the Republic of Cyprus and pledged to implement, not even the laws of our own country. Crimes, criminal offenses against animals are handled by the competent services in an ineffective manner", he added.

He said, in addition, that since 2002 there has been a law for extra-judicial settlement of crimes against animals which unfortunately this law has also been disregarded.

Ms. Pogiatzis stated that they gave the competent state agencies and the President of the Republic their recommendations for the correct and effective implementation of the laws concerning animals, without financial cost to the state.

Their proposals, he said, concern the creation of a uniformed body with the recruitment of people on a contract basis who will be subordinate to the police, with sensitivities towards animals and to be trained in the provisions of the relevant laws and who will be paid based on the terms of the Labor Office and they will carry out visits to houses, fields, estates, farms, livestock establishments and elsewhere in the provinces where they reside, ex officio or following complaints.

“They will be assisted by the Local Authority and the Police where they are needed. The members of the corps will have the right to issue extrajudicial fines to those who violate provisions of the laws (abuse or neglect of animal care, dogs without tags and possession permit, etc.) At the same time, a leeway of a few days will be given depending on the case for compliance. In no case should they be limited to advice only. Evidence that will justify the issuance of an extrajudicial fine will be two photographs. Members of the body will be entitled to 15% of the collection of extrajudicial fines. An amount that will be an incentive to work", he added.

They are also recommended, said Ms. Pogiatzis, the significant increase in the license to own non-sterilized dogs, as well as the creation of a special fund from out-of-court fines where part of the money will be allocated for full-time sterilization of cats and treatment of injured animals.

They believe, he said, that by issuing extra-judicial fines for each case of violation of provisions of the laws, as is the case in all cases of violations of laws, the abuse and abandonment of animals will be put to an end.

"We call on the new President of the Republic of Cyprus to take very seriously the unacceptable and harmful situation for our country and to provide immediate and drastic solutions", he noted.

Candidates for the Presidency of the Republic or their representatives were also invited to the conference, as Ms. Pogiatzis, and it was attended on behalf of the candidate for President, Nikos Christodoulidis, by Andreas Giortsios, and the candidate for President, Alexios Savvidis, who, with their interventions at the conference, referred to their positions and their policy for the protection and welfare of animals .

Source: KYPE