By Maria Gregoriou
ANIMAL lovers will take to the streets on Saturday to demand that the government implement a raft of measures ensuring animal welfare.
The measures – which include an animal welfare department within the police force and an animal control service – are not new, but are now more urgent than ever, animal welfare organisations say.
“This is not something new and this is not the first time we have asked for these measures, but with the overpopulation of stray animals getting out of control, animal shelters, organisations and volunteers no longer have room or the funds to take on more and more animals,” president of the Cyrus Voice for Animals (CVA), Mary Anastasi said on Wednesday.
An animal control service could implement a neutering programme and the numbers of stray animals would fall she said.
The economic crisis has meant some people cannot take care of themselves, let alone their animals, she added.
“Because of this, people abandon their animals in the streets, causing an overpopulation of stray animals,” she said.
“Many neighbourhoods are riddled with cats or dogs, and they may be poisoned or mistreated.”
Saturday’s protest is to try and get the government to accept its responsibly “which it never had to do because animal organisations would always pick-up the slack,” Anastasi said.
The protest will start at 11.30am at the interior ministry in Nicosia and continue to the presidential palace where President Nicos Anastasiades will receive a written document with the animal activists’ demands.
The protest starts at the interior ministry because it is the ministry in charge of animal welfare.
As an example of how the ministry has failed its obligations, Anastasi gave the example of a 2004 law stating that all dogs should be registered and be inserted with a chip.
“In this way when a dog is abandoned or gets lost, the dog can be traced back to its owner. It is nearly 2014 and this law has never been put into effect, it is about time that it is,” she said.
More than 95 per cent of dogs in Cyprus are not registered.
The list of demands also includes that municipality’s pick up stray dogs.
“A lack of funds means that the on-call services from the municipalities has been cut, so if a dog goes missing or if there are a group of dogs in a neighbourhood after 3pm when government employees get off work, then nothing can be done,” Anastasi pointed out.
CVA is a union of 12 animal welfare societies and all 12 societies will be taking part in the protest.