MORE than 200,000 dogs, including new-borns and puppies are being abandoned each year in Cyprus the head of the island’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) Toula Poyiadji said on Thursday.
In an announcement, the CSPCA criticised the government for not enforcing mircochipping of dogs, obligatory since 2002.
“Stray dogs are victims of irresponsible compatriots of ours who avoid putting microchips on their dogs so that they can abandon them when they are sick of them or when they want to get a different breed,” the CSPCA said. It added that 200,000 dogs were being abandoned each year in the government controlled areas.
“This number is not an exaggeration. We have been gathering data for two years to reach this estimate,” Poyiadji told the Cyprus Mail.
She added that the CSPCA calculated the number of dogs living in homes, the numbers of telephone calls they receive daily for strays, and data they have gathered from communities.
“In this number we include the unwanted new-born dogs and puppies we find thrown in dustbins,” Poyiadji said.
Sadly, she said, nothing changed since 1985 when she first started dealing with animal welfare issues. “I see no improvement,” she said.
The law on animal welfare was introduced in 1994 and in 2002 the law on dogs, but there is no enforcement.
Poyiadji stressed the importance of installing putting microchips on dogs, as it means the owners, in case they abandon their pets, can be found and be held accountable.
The situation in villages is even worse, she said, as almost no dog is microchipped, meaning that they are more easily abandoned. The last few years, due to the increased rates of abandonment, there is another problem; packs of dogs roaming the streets searching for food.
She also said that animal welfare organisations were doing the government’s job.
Many times she said, they even receive threats from some dog owners who keep their pets in bad conditions after they approach them to offer help.
“We received threats against our lives in the past… people with knives or pieces of wood. One time a man told me that if I rang his doorbell again, he would rip my arm off,” Poyiadji said.
The deputy head of the state veterinary services Christodoulos Pipis, told the Cyprus News Agency that his department was in no position to confirm whether the number the CSPCA came up with was accurate, as the management of stray dogs was the responsibility of local authorities.
The problem however, he said, is not due to the lack of action on behalf of the local authorities or the state services, but rather to “our mindset as a people”.
This mindset needs to change, through schools and the family, Pipis said. “Dogs are not toys nor objects that can be thrown away if one doesn’t like them”.
He added that the law on dogs, which stipulates that microchipping is obligatory, was not being applied as it should by local authorities. If the law was applied properly, Pipis said, there would be no problem as the owner could be located.
If municipalities and communities organised awareness campaigns on these issues, and if there was a change in the mindset of the people as regards pets none of the state services would have to do anything, Pipis said.
The CSPCA is running two programmes, one for microchipping, the other for neutering cats and dogs at low prices. For more information call 22 350530.