A Paphos animal charity on Tuesday threatened to release about 1,500 animals “for the state to take care of” after it said its running costs have become unsustainable.
The future of hundreds of animals hangs in the balance after Animal Rescue Cyprus ARC, previously known as Paphiakos and CCP animal welfare groups, which has been operating for more than 35 years issued an urgent appeal for funds.
ARC said members of the public continue to drop off unwanted animals without making a donation while they lack government funding has led to their current dire straits.
“The workload is becoming heavier by the day and running costs are increasing, we are now in an impossible situation. Either we receive immediate help or we will be forced to open the shelter gates for the 1,500 or so animals, and let all of the staff go and apply for unemployment benefit and the government redundancy fund,” ARC said.
“We take our duties very seriously and we are doing our best to ensure that our rescue service, Erasmus and educational programmes continue,” a member of staff told the Cyprus Mail, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Increasing numbers of people are refusing to make donations towards an animal’s care when they drop off rescued, injured and unwanted animals at the charity. “This applies to a large percentage of people. Even if they just gave €10, which is not a fortune, it would really help,” she said.
In 2018, the charity spayed and neutered 1,825 dogs and 9,125 cats. They also collected and disposed of 638 dead animals from the roads last year.
“Local authorities continue to bring animals to the shelter and use the services provided, but never pay any money for them,” the staff member said.
“Last Friday new regulations for shelters and dog hotels were approved by parliament, granting an additional €100,000 funding to the existing €100,000 they already grant, so basically doubling the aid budget for shelters,” the Animal Party’s Kyriakos Kyriakou said. This money is distributed among all shelters.
“If ARC cannot handle the animals they have to make an arrangement with the ministry of agriculture to transfer the animals to other shelters,” he added. “You can’t just fold and give the responsibility of the animals to the government or to other shelters.”
Paid staff at ARC had numbered around 45, which includes the charity’s two veterinarians, shop, clinic and office staff. That number has just been reduced to 35 with more cuts looming.
“We need an extra €25,000 a month to break even. We need urgent help to ensure that we won’t close. Currently, all the animals are at the shelter and all measures have been taken for them to be fed, cleaned and looked after,” she said.
Around 1,490kg a day of dog food is required, in addition to 75kg of cat food and rice amounts plus 35 cans of soft food.
Feed for horses, donkeys and goats costs €40,000 a year and 800 bales of hay, greens, salt, vitamins, and medical costs come with an estimate of €220,000.
Although a large number of people are signed up to volunteer at the charity, most of them are dog walkers and there is only a small core of ‘regulars’, as the rest are made up of holidaymakers and occasional helpers, the staffer said.
It is impossible to rely on volunteers to run the shelter and carry out all of the massive tasks that need to be undertaken on a daily basis, she added, including cleaning out all of the animal areas and feeding.
“The shelter in particular is very gruelling work and volunteers here never last more than a few days at most. This is a very stressful time for us all as we understand only too well how important our mission is to the community, the environment and the animals.”
The charity is in the process of setting up a crowd-funding page with the aim that regular and recurrent monthly donations will be made by supporters.
Kyriakou said there was a similar case in Limassol when a shelter was about to close down but the government intervened and offered financial support to avoid the closure. “I think the government will do the same with ARC this time,” he said.
Animal Rescue Cyprus on Facebook, www.cyprusanimalwelfare.com