By Evie Andreou
A POLICE investigation is underway to find out the exact cause of death of three dogs whose charred remains were found in a pit in a dog shelter in Aradippou.
The death of a white poodle is also being investigated.
The dog shelter is ran by a private individual who sells services to four Larnaca district municipalities and takes in stray dogs brought in by them. The case was reported on Saturday to the police by Stella Stylianou of the Argos animal sanctuary who was investigating the dogs’ living conditions at the shelter.
Police said on Tuesday they were waiting for the findings of the state veterinary and health services. Depending on the outcome, prosecution might follow.
The owner of the shelter, Nicos Christodoulou, reportedly could not provide euthanasia papers for the dogs, nor other records indicating how many dogs the shelter had received.
Stylianou had reported that the dogs’ cages were filthy and the animals had been left with no food.
Christodoulou defended his running of the shelter to the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday.
“I was away because I was ill, and my sons were taking care of the place,” he said. “It was a little dirty because they didn’t clean up but I’ve taken over now and I cleaned the place.”
When asked about the charred bodies of the dead dogs he said that he had been instructed by ‘animal welfare services’ to bury the dogs because they had been ill before they died. He said that it was the standard procedure, so that the disease didn’t spread.
He added that that the dogs had been euthanised before they were burnt but he became agitated when asked if he had been specifically instructed by the state veterinary services to burn the dogs’ bodies. He said that he had thrown calcium carbonate (lime powder) in the pit, without clarifying if he burned the dogs or not.
He was evasive when asked further questions before saying he that he was tired of doing this business and that he had decided to resign.
The head of the state’s vet services, Andreas Papaefstathiou told the Mail that they are investigating the cause of death of the dogs.
“There are 63 dog shelters on the island and we inspect all of them, but of course we can’t be there all the time,” Papaefstathiou said, adding that municipalities must also assume responsibility for the dogs kept in their care.
Aradippou mayor Evangelos Evangelides said on Monday that private shelters were licensed by the vet services, not the municipalities. He said problems would continue until there is a district animal shelter and urged the state to provide assistance.
Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis said on Tuesday he gave instructions to suspend cooperation with the shelter as soon as he heard about the investigation. He said from now the municipality would only cooperate with shelters ran by animal welfare groups in the Larnaca region.
“That way we will ensure that dogs are treated the way they should,” Louroudjiatis said.
He added that the municipality has adopted a ‘no kill policy’, meaning that animals in their care would not be euthanised after 15 days and that they would cooperate with animal organisations to find them a home.
He also said that they have already started, in cooperation with the other Larnaca district municipalities, designing a dog shelter according to European standards and that they are at the final stage of finding a location and funding for its creation.