Scores of people gathered along Phinikoudes in Larnaca on Sunday outside the town hall to protest against a recent decision by the district court to give a suspended sentence to a man who was tried in an horrific case of animal abuse.
The protest, which also aimed at highlighting the issue of animal abuse in general, was organised by the Animal Party and attended by scores of Cypriot and foreign pet lovers, many of whom brought along their dogs.
Demonstrators carried placards reading: “No to animal abuse”, “Implementation of the law for the welfare of animals», “Do not abuse animals” and “Protect animal welfare” gathered outside the town hall.
Animal Party leader Kyriacos Kyriacou addressed the crowd saying; “Today’s large demonstration is taking place because the public is fed up and angered by the latest decisions of the courts and we expect to see justice.”
Earlier this month the Larnaca court hand down a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years to a man who was supposed to run a shelter for dogs for the municipality but instead maltreated, starved and set them alight to get rid of them.
The Larnaca municipality had handed over 119 dogs to the shelter between August 2013 and August 2014. When volunteers of the non-profit organisation Argos discovered the place on August 2, 2014, they said they found 20 malnourished animals, others which had died from starvation and a pit with the charred remains of dead dogs.
The volunteers also found there was a lack of food and water and the animals lived in their faeces in the cages. Some bones and raw meat were thrown among the mess.
Mitigating circumstances for the sentence were that the owner admitted his guilt in dousing malnourished animals with petrol and setting them alight. He would then bury them in a nearby field.
However the Animal Party subsequently asked the attorney-general to appeal the sentence. Kyriacou said on Sunday that this was already underway but he said it should be totally unnecessary to have to appeal to the AG every time an animal abuse case was dismissed or it severity minimised by the courts.
“Volunteers are working day and night in animal shelters without pay when it is the job of the municipalities,” he said.
“We want to do away with animal shelters and kennels for strays and replace it with a culture where animals prosper,” he added.
Kyriacou said in addition to asking the AG to review the latest case, he had also asked for a legal investigation into regulations related to animal breeders, pet stores and shelters, and said the AG had pledged to appoint someone to work on a study.
He also criticised the fact that the Larnaca mayor had not bothered to attend Sunday’s protest to hear the demands of the animal lovers. A representative from the Aradippou municipality had attended and a resolution was handed to him instead, Kyriacou said.
The resolution was also addressed to President Nicos Anastasiades, the justice minister, the AG and the chief of police and called on them to fulfill their responsibilities in adhering to the laws for the protection of animals.