By Peter Stevenson
A GROUP of animal welfare activists gathered outside the agriculture ministry yesterday demanding a clampdown on dog breeding, and the sale of exotic animals.
Members of Animal Responsibility Cyprus (ARC) met Minister Nicos Kouyialis in an attempt to find a solution to the growing number of dogs in shelters and the importation of exotic and rare animals.
While the meeting was taking place other animal rights groups blocked the entrance to the ministry holding banners and telling reporters their demands.
Founder of Pets2Adopt Christiana Mandriotou told the Cyprus Mail that she feels the problem was deeply rooted and that only a change in staff at the veterinary services and other state offices would see true change come about.
“Civil servants who have no interest in animal welfare or animals in general should not be involved at a governmental level in dealing with them so we suggest they be moved to another department and replaced with people who truly care,” she said.
Mandriotou added that she felt the veterinary services were not doing their job properly and despite having evidence and reports of cases of animals being mistreated or being illegally bred they do nothing, she said.
“Volunteers have become slaves to government employees who are sitting in their cushy air-conditioned offices doing nothing, while we are trying to save animals without state support at our own cost,” she said Mandriotou said she was tired and stressed from having to battle on two fronts, one against uncooperative government officials, secondly, saving the animals.
“If someone is ok with striking an animal then who is to say they won’t hit their children or wife?” she asked.
Members of Cyprus’ Vegan and Humane Society, Andrea Barlow, Anna Maria Dumitru and Maria Maratheftis all expressed their dismay at the number of strays currently at large on the island.
“It’s difficult for me to leave my house because of the packs of strays which are in my neighbourhood,” Dumitru said.
They all expressed the opinion that breeding needed to be stopped immediately as long as animal shelters were so full.
“Animal shelters are already overflowing so it is crazy to keep breeding more and more,” Maratheftis said.
As well as clamping down on breeding, the society believes that something needs to be done regarding the selling of exotic animals which are advertised in papers and on websites.
“Something needs to be done about drivers running animals down too because it is far too common a phenomenon to see cars speed up as they are approaching cats and dogs who have accidentally wandered onto the street,” Barlow said.
The group said there was not enough knowledge on a state level about animal welfare in Cyprus and that the veterinary services were not informed enough to make a difference.
“An association like the RSPCA in England needs to be created over here too which can not only care for animals but provide the correct education so people know how to treat animals,” Dumitru added.
Barlow said another member of the society, Kypros Constantinou, had begun a hunger strike in his attempts to get ARC’s demands enforced.