By Evie Andreou
As a tourist destination, Cyprus should give the best image abroad when it comes to animal welfare, the head of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) Marios Hannides said on Tuesday.
The Cyrus Animal Party and CTO discussed the possibility of introducing a protocol on the handling of stray animals in hospitality units.
“It is a fact that the recent press publications on animal abuse in Cyprus have tarnished, to a great extent, Cyprus’ image abroad. The goal of today’s meeting is to find ways, in cooperation with animal welfare organisations and with the Animal Party, so that these kinds of actions are prevented in the future,” Hannides said.
Cyprus hit the headlines around the world when a sick dog, later named Billy, was thrown in the cardboard crushing unit when it was found at a hotel in Protaras. After it was rescued when some tourists heard its cries it was kept alive for a few days at a local vet.
The Animal Party’s chairman Kyriacos Kyriacou said even though there are currently other programmes run by non-governmental-organisations that cooperate with hotels, they are voluntary.
“They (hotels) only participate if they want to. We want to introduce a special protocol, which once signed, will bind them to commit and participate,” Kyriacou said.
The suggested protocol of ‘Animal protection, welfare and management’ indicates procedures when dealing with stray and farm animals, wounded animals, support of stray animals and animal abuse.
The Animal Party suggests that it should be applied when hotel staff or guests find stray or wounded animals or when they suspect or witness animal abuse.
A list is provided of state, local and other organisations dealing with animals and the protocol urges hotel managers to get in contact with them and be informed of their role and their field of responsibility so if they come across any animal related issue they will know how to act and who to call.
The list suggests the state veterinary services, district animal welfare committees, local animal shelters, local police stations, local vets, and state and other departments dealing with animal welfare.
“In cases of an emergency and communication is not possible with any of the contacts, or during weekends, hotel managers should be able to work independently and immediately to help any animal in need,” the protocol says.
It also suggests that each hotel has a net to capture animals, a scanner to scan stray dogs for a microchip, animal food for cases of emergency, a place to keep animals until they are taken by the authorities or a shelter, an animal first aid kit and an agreement with a local vet, available to assist in cases of emergency.
“The way this protocol is implemented will send out the relevant messages for our tourism. This way our tourism will increase, animal abuse incidents will decrease and it will help change the way we treat animals in our country,” Kyriacou said.