By Peter Stevenson
PACKS OF stray dogs are causing problems for both the residents and authorities in the capital but especially in municipalities bordering the buffer-zone.
Ayios Dhometios, with municipality limits beginning at the Grammar School and ending at the central prisons, has one of the biggest problems in the Nicosia district with stray dogs, according to its Mayor, Costas Petrou. Commenting on a recent letter published in daily Phileleftheros from a resident of his municipality, complaining about a pack of stray dogs which killed one of her cats, Petrou said the matter was being investigated.
“Municipality health services visited the lady’s home but unfortunately she was not home so we could not fully investigate the incident,” he said. “We spoke to one of her neighbours but unfortunately he could not shed any light on the incident which allegedly took place at around 3am on Tuesday while he was asleep,” he added.
Petrou explained that the house the woman lives in is not close to the buffer zone, where most stray dog sightings happen, and that she has two dogs and several cats.
“Whether the strays were attracted to her dogs is a matter we will have to look into,” he said.
Despite the fee to microchip and register dogs being between €20 and €50, many residents have not gone ahead with it, making the municipality’s job of returning stray dogs to their owners even harder, according to Petrou.
“Once a dog is picked up by Municipality health services it is taken to a special shelter until we can either find its owner or it is passed on to the Nicosia Dog Shelter which will deal with the dog,” he said. “If a dog has a microchip then he can be returned swiftly to his owner but in cases where dogs have not been chipped, if we don’t find the owner within a week the animal is handed over to another shelter,” he added.
During municipality working hours there are patrols carried out by health service workers but that is not sufficient to cover the problem, and residents are asked to contact police if they see any strays when the municipality is not operating.
“We are trying our best to combat the problem but there is nothing to stop dogs from crossing the Green Line throughout the municipality,” Petrou said. “If there was barbed-wire or something blocking dogs from coming across the border then we wouldn’t have such a big problem,” he added.
The Mayor told the Mail that he has contacted the UN to help with the problem, and despite carrying out their own patrols in the buffer-zone, the problem has not decreased.