By Evie Andreou
The Cabinet on Monday approved a bill amending the law on dogs, which provides for heavy fines and speedier enforcement when it comes to owners who do not abide by the law.
The amendment, which is to be tabled to the House shortly, was deemed necessary in order to give more powers to law enforcement.
“The aim of this bill is better enforcement of the law on dogs by local authorities, the state’s veterinary services and the police,” Dr Lefteris Hadjisterkotis, environment officer at the interior ministry, told the Cyprus.
Hadjisterkotis said that there had been numerous complaints from local authorities and state services which work on animal issues that they could not do their jobs properly under the current legislation.
“With the current legislation on dogs, if an owner is not caring for their dog properly, they are taken to court and it is a long and complicated procedure with uncertain results,” Hadjisterkotis said.
He added that the amendment would simplify procedures, giving local authorities the right to impose fines for various offences defined in the bill.
Most offences carry a fine of €85 with the sum doubling if the offence occurs twice in less than a month.
“At the third offence fines may rise to €400 and for the fourth offence the local authority has the right to take the dog away from the owner,” Hadjisterkotis said.
He said that the fines collected from the local authorities would be used towards the upkeep of their animal shelters.
The amendment provides for fines among others for not putting microchips on dogs and not registering them with local authorities, for not keeping a dog’s health records, for keeping dogs on balconies, roof tops, or common yards in apartment buildings, for not cleaning a dog’s faeces in public places, for not having a collar on a dog with the owner’s name and phone number, as well as for barking that disturbs neighbours.
Larger fines, €150, will be imposed on owners of unregistered dogs considered as ‘dangerous breeds’ as well as on vets that do not register them if they are treating such pets.
“The bill also provides that dog registrations will be valid until December 31 of each year, so that by the end of the year, owners will know that their dogs’ licences must be renewed. That way it will be easier for the authorities to check on expired licences,” Hadjisterkotis said. Currently bills for dog licences can come mid-year, depending on various municipalities.
He also said that customs would be forced to report to the veterinary services, all imports of dogs and provide the owner’s address in Cyprus so that local authorities will know of the existence of these dogs.
“So far, customs did not inform the vet services on the arrivals of dogs from abroad,” Hadjisterkotis said.
The bill has taken three years to prepare with input and suggestions from local authorities, government bodies working with animals, animal welfare groups and veterinarians.