By Bejay Browne
A PRIVATE dog sanctuary in Gioulou in Paphos which was decimated by a fire in September is hoping to raise cash for repairs, upgrades and the upkeep of the 50 or so dogs.
The initiative, ‘Cyprus Paws Homeless Dogs’ in Gioulou (not to be confused with The Cyprus Association for the Protection and Care of Animals (CAPCA) a registered charity, known as PAWS animal shelter in Achaelia) was set up by animal lover Nieske De Jonge, 51, around five months ago and already looks after around 45 dogs and 11 puppies.
Supporters are trying to rebuild fences and shelters for the dogs to keep them warm and safe in the colder months, following a fire on September 1, which destroyed fences and shelters, leaving soot, ash and smoke in its wake.
De Jonge moved to Cyprus two and a half years ago with her mother and daughter. She had been working as an art teacher in Holland and volunteered at an animal charity.
She decided to rent a couple for fields close to her home in the countryside of Giolou village in Paphos, and a few months ago, set up home for unwanted, stray and injured dogs, who would have no hope of survival without her intervention.
She told the Cyprus Mail: “We had a family home here 25 years ago and Cyprus has a special place in my heart. I’m not a registered charity or anything, I just love dogs and wanted to do something to help. So I rented a field next to my house and it started out as a very small enterprise and has grown already.”
It costs about €100 a week just to feed the dogs, she said.
The animal lover shares her own home with her two dogs from Holland, two rescue dogs and another paraplegic rescue called ‘Sparkle.’ She came from a shelter in Limassol, said De Jonge, and was in a terrible state after being involved in an accident.
“She is about a year old and I’ve had her for about three months. Her trolley, which helps her to walk, was sent from England. I’ve always had dogs since I was a child, and I love them. The dogs come to me and are in bad situations. They have been neglected, are emaciated, malnourished, injured or have been dumped somewhere. “
De Jonge said that almost half are hunting dogs the rest are all sorts and all sizes including a white husky and numerous Cyprus poodles.
The dog shelters were built with pallets, and other bits and pieces which people donated. Someone also donated a swimming pool liner which made a great waterproof roof, she said.
Sponsored dog walks and car boot sales, help to raise funds, as do direct donations from supporters.
“I am trying to spay and neuter all of them. Spaying is more costly around €100 for each female. Neutering the dogs is about €50 each.”
She has already managed to neuter almost all of the larger male dogs.
“One field is dedicated for use by bigger dogs and older ones, and all of these males are now neutered, with the exception of three which came in last week. This is very important as they would be aggressive living in a group like this.”
There is another field which is used for smaller dogs, calmer dogs and puppies, she noted.
“These dogs need loving families to adopt them and that is my aim. There was a massive fire in Theletra recently which is close to us and there were subsequently a number of small fires where we are. I got a number of friend’s together and their cars and we managed to move the dogs to safety, I had 25 of them in my house.”
A fundraising event is being held in Paphos to rebuild the ‘dog motels’ which burnt down, spaying the female dogs, and installing a water pipe in the field, as volunteers are currently lugging water backwards and forwards.
The animal lover said: “Dogs have no chance, they are put down and in some cases, after being in the pound for only two weeks.”
She pointed out that the dog sanctuary gives the animals a chance to be adopted, mostly in England, Holland and other European countries, where they will be looked after, vaccinated, fed well and cared for.
“Around ten dogs have been adopted already and a number of re-homing offers have come in from various organisations, so I’m sending them files on each dog to try and get them adopted. It’s easier to get them adopted in the UK, as I think it’s a bigger place than Cyprus and more people want to have a dog.”
She noted that a good solution would be to set up a neutering and spaying programme for stray dogs in Cyprus, but added that setting it up seemed to be difficult.
“I want to keep the sanctuary at this level, with this amount of dogs. I don’t really want to take too many more. This is a good space for them and I don’t want it to be overcrowded. Also, the fundraising can only look after this number of dogs. “
De Jonge helps out other organisations and shelters where she can, taking in dogs in emergency situations.
A fundraising evening will be held at Namos Bar St. George’s Road, Peyia on Friday November 13. Tickets are priced at €10 and will include entertainment by Kim Verkaik, Paul Sky, David Whittington and Stevey Kniibbs. There will also be a raffle, and a mini auction.
For tickets call Kathryn: – 97756107/99097177
Nieske De Jonge- 96232855