A new bill is being prepared to create a police department which will deal with animal protection, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday.
In a statement to mark world animal day, Anastasiades said a lot needed to be done by the state to improve animal welfare in Cyprus and a new policy is beginning to take shape after much discussion between NGOs, animal welfare groups, government departments and local authorities.
The bill on establishing an animal protection unit as part of the police force is due before parliament “very soon” he added and this will allow members of the public to report animal abuse cases to police.
Cabinet has also agreed that an animal welfare body will fall under the responsibility of the volunteer commissioner to put an end to the existing complicated with different responsibilities falling under different ministries.
Legislation is being examined by the legal service and includes reinforcing the coordinating committee on animal welfare with more members.
“Our culture is judged by the way we treat animals. For this reason, the state and society, jointly decided to give animals the respect they deserve,” Anastasiades said.
The veterinary services will also be renamed ‘veterinary and animal welfare services’ that will have the executive responsibility of implementing the law.
Anastasiades also announced Animal Party leader Kyriacos Kyriacou has been appointed as an unpaid consultant to the president.
The party, in a statement on Wednesday expressed their concern over the way animal welfare has been approached historically in Cyprus, but said even a few years ago, the issue was not even discussed in pre-election campaigns nor in government programmes.
“Our animal loving members, either through personal initiatives or organised groups, work hard and fight a long battle every day to recognise and defend animal rights.”
In August, cabinet approved a €75,000 budget for additional financial assistance towards the stray animals neutering scheme. The additional amount will bring the total budget for the scheme to €125,000.
More than 300,000 flyers have been dispersed across Cyprus to brief the public on the scheme, Anastasiades said.