By Jean Christou
‘Little Billy’, the stray poodle thrown into a cardboard crusher a week ago by two hotel workers , is conscious but immobile, Animal Party head Kyriacos Kyriacou said on Monday.
Kyriacou who makes daily trips to see Billy at a veterinary clinic in Paralimni told the Cyprus Mail, the dog was very weak but had managed to take some water by mouth. Billy was comatose when first brought to the vet.
“His eyes have opened and there was some reaction but he can’t move,” Kyriacou said.
He said Billy had already had an injured back leg and had sustained head injuries from being throw into the crusher. He is on pain medication. “He is being given the best treatment possible,” Kyriacou said.
He said party was committed to following through on the case to the end. “It is important that such cases not be forgotten,” he said.
On Sunday some 200 people showed up to protest outside the hotel in Protaras where the incident happened. The hotel is owned by the Tsokkos group. Tensions were high as shouting protestors carried placards in Greek and English, some with photos of abused animals, while tourists either looked on or took photos and videos. The entrance to the hotel, which last week fired the two employees and suspended the manager, was cordoned off by police.
Things almost got out of hand when some hotel staff came out to confront the shouting protesters but cooler heads – mostly members of the Green Party – persuaded them to go back inside. “There were a lot of angry people,” said Kyriacou who was there in a private capacity and not as the representative of the Animal Party. The protest fizzled out around 6.30pm.
The treatment of Billy caused a storm of protest last week with an online petition garnering thousands of signatures, and elsewhere lighting up Facebook and Twitter. Police are investigating and have already charged the two staff members. The publicity was so negative that President Nicos Anastasiades, who was in Brussels at the time, and tourism authorities were forced to make statements. Anastasiades said the government would follow through on its pledge to clampdown on animal abuse and also to raise awareness on the issue, especially in schools.
On Monday the Hotel Managers Association condemned what happened to Billy but added that there was a problem with stray animals around hotels on the island in general.
“This can cause annoyance, but beyond that, there are health and safety problems both for guests and staff,” the association said in a written statement.
The root causes of the problem were the low level of sensitivity to animal welfare, inadequate provision of care by some animal owners, and the lack of a clear plan to prevent the presence of strays combined with the utter lack of infrastructure in place by the authorities, the association said.
It said it would take part in initiatives with animal welfare organisations to make workers in the tourism industry more aware of the issues.
These will focus on highlighting for them the provisions of the law for animal welfare, along with how to act appropriately when dealing with stray cats or dogs.
“It will require the authorities to create an efficient infrastructure for implementation and enforcement,” the association said.
“Beyond the protection of animals, we also need to ensure a healthy, safe and pleasant environment for our guests and employees,” it concluded.