By Constantinos Psillides
THE DOG kennel in Limassol that was suspected of animal abuse has shut down and won’t continue its operation, according Animal Responsibility Cyprus (ARC).
ARC, whose members yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration in collaboration with other animal welfare organisations outside the kennel said the people responsible for the kennel should be brought to justice and that everything must be done to make sure that similar incidents don’t occur in the future.
Animal welfare activists rescued 16 dogs last Monday in a covert operation.
The volunteers and members from Animal Welfare Cyprus said the dogs were living in squalid conditions.
One member of the group told the Cyprus Mail that he and five other volunteers on managed to gain access to the kennel on December 23. He said that they asked the owner for permission to visit before but were denied every time. The activists got suspicious and decided to head to the kennel without giving prior warning.
“We carried out an inspection… there were dead dogs, dogs and puppies living in their own waste, emaciated dogs, no water, no care – just left to rot,” said one member.
Around 28 dogs were in the kennel. The volunteers took all but 12. They placed some in foster homes and others with kennels they trusted.
The 12 dogs that remained have private owners who have left the dogs there as they are away on holiday.
The compound was supposedly under the supervision of an animal welfare organisation, according to ARC.
Kyriakos Kyriakou, head of ARC, accused the Veterinary Services of negligence, pointing out that they were the ones that should monitor animal organizations activities and that the kennel was unlicenced.
Around 50 people gathered outside the kennel yesterday to protest.
Tempers rose briefly when one of the protesters tried to gain access by force to the bolted up compound.
The protester, Robert Cracknell, told the Cyprus Mail that he only did so after he heard barking coming from the compound. “They told us that all the dogs were vacated from the premises. I could hear barking so I wanted to make sure that the dogs there were properly taken care off,” said Cracknell, adding that the protesters were dedicated people whose only concern is the welfare of the animals in the kennel.
Two policemen arrived at the scene and the owner of the kennel was contacted, promptly admitting that there were dogs in the kennel, clarifying that they were his own.
Two representatives of the protesters were sent to verify the validity of the owner’s claims and found the three dogs to be in good health. The owner promised that he would pick up the dogs shortly.
The protesters then marched to the Polemidia police station were they handed a signed petition addressed to the Police Chief, the minister of Justice and the Attorney General, asking for the exemplary punishment of those found guilty.
Meanwhile, police said that the 64-year old man who was accused of tying his dog on his car and dragging it to its death is facing six different charges of animal abuse and negligence. The man is currently released and he is expected to appear before court at a later date.
An online petition on Avaaz ( http://goo.gl/Z2lyCP ) under the title “President Anastasiades: Punishment for the 64-year-old who killed his dog-Establish Animal Police” had gathered almost 8,000 signatures as of yesterday afternoon, aiming to reach 15,000 signatures.
Both those animal abuse incidents brought back the demand for establishing an Animal Protection Unit in the police force.
Incidents of animal abuse are currently handled by the Veterinary Services and any wrongdoing is reported to police.
Plans to set up an animal police force were dropped, with Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou saying in June that the demand could not be met at this stage.
The minister had told the NGO Cyprus Voice for Animals (CVA) in a meeting that animal welfare policing should be undertaken by neighborhood police officers.
CVA estimates that a task force of 10 to 15 officers would be more than enough to effectively police Cyprus on matters of animal welfare.