The House plenum on Friday passed new regulations, which among other things provide that dogs must be neutered before they leave temporary shelters but some MPs dissented, citing economic ruin for already cash-strapped animal sanctuaries.
The regulations passed by the plenary introduce new criteria as regards the standards for breeders, shelters, pet hotels and temporary shelters for dogs and cats aimed at the protection and welfare of the animals.
The Greens filed an amendment which was passed with 49 to two and which provides that before dogs leave temporary shelters must be spayed or neutered.
Elam’s amendment, which excluded from these provisions permanent animal shelters that are non-for-profit, was rejected.
Greens’ MP Charalambos Theopemptou admitted that the legislation that would be adopted could cause difficulties to animal shelters, but the House environment committee received reassurances from the agriculture ministry that it would allocate funds to non-governmental organisations.
AKEL MP Giorgos Loukaides said the amendments concerned temporary shelters and not the ones where dogs are kept permanently.
“Local authorities must finally create infrastructures (for stray dogs),” Loukaides said, adding that small communities could cooperate on this matter.
He said his party was backing the Greens’ amendment arguing that since municipalities charge for dog licences, they were “obliged to sort out this mess”.
According to the Solidarity Movement’s MP, Michalis Giorgallas, whose party also backed the Greens’ amendment, the state needed to support volunteer organisations that run animal shelters.
But according to Elam, the House plenum “decided on the ruination of non-for-profit animal shelters, ignoring the tragic consequences.”
The party said that all other parties voted that volunteers must be treated just like businesses which would lead to them having to deal with “an unbearable cost.” This, the party said, would lead to the closing down of many shelters run by volunteers and result in soaring numbers of stray animals all over Cyprus.
The numbers of stray dogs and cats have soared since the economic crisis with shelters being full to the brim and making desperate calls for state support arguing that the annual state aid given to registered shelters for neutering and spaying is not enough.
The agriculture ministry this year has launched a number of initiatives aimed at raising awareness about animal welfare and to improve living conditions of animals, among them a free microchipping programme as a means to reduce stray dogs and avoid dog theft.