A lack of flights out of Cyprus due to the pandemic is having a huge impact on the ability of Paws dog shelter in Paphos to re-home dogs abroad, something it relies on to find the canines good homes and free up space to take more off the streets.
“As we re-home so many of our dogs and puppies to Germany and other countries, we have been facing huge difficulties as flights with are flight partners are just not coming to the island at present,” Paws shelter manager, Matthew Harris told the Cyprus Mail.
This means that the shelter is now having to use cargo flights to transport the dogs off Cyprus and they have to wait until a large number are ready to be flown to new homes.
“We have to take them to Larnaca in bulk now, we have just sent 28 in one go as there are no domestic flights, it’s really hard,” said Harris.
The Cyprus Association for the Protection and Care of Animals, CAPCA, is the official name of the registered charity established around 35 years ago, however, it is known as ‘Paws’, which is the name of their dog shelter in Achelia, found close to Paphos airport.
The shelter is a care facility for abandoned, rescued and abused dogs in Paphos and the surrounding areas.
The lack of flights is creating huge logistical problems for the shelter as it is difficult to move so many dogs in one go. It took two fully loaded vans to enable the dogs to be sent to Germany and they were transported in the shelter’s ageing shop van, which is not ideal, said Harris. The second was a van borrowed from Graham and Helen Shackleton from Limassol Rescue and Rehome, he added.
The 28 were all bound for Germany where ‘Zyperhunde’ which has been collaborating with Paws for some time have found the dogs either forever homes or foster homes. None of them are being sent to other shelters, he said.
In January, the shelter re-homed 43 dogs, 28 to Germany, 8 to the UK, along with extra paperwork generated by Brexit, and 7 in Cyprus.
A new van, minibus size, is urgently needed to satisfy the needs of the shelter, complete with air conditioning, good ventilation and the ability for cages to be properly strapped in and secured, he said.
“It took two vans to take the 21 crates with 28 dogs in and we really need a large van of our own which we can use. Even if the local lockdown is lifted, I can’t see flights resuming as before for some time and we will need to use cargo flights for at least the next eight months,” Harris said.
The shelter manager hopes to meet with the committee on Monday to request releasing any available funds and discuss ways to raise money to purchase the van.
“We really need sponsorship and events will have to be held online, as obviously, at present we are not able to hold outside events.”
The number of enquiries being received from members of the public that want to adopt a dog has increased dramatically during lockdown he said, as many people want an excuse to get out of the house.
As restrictions in many countries allow for dog walking, enquiries are coming in from all over the world, said Harris. This means that home-checkers carrying out the necessary checks ahead of re-homing have to be very careful, Harris said.
“We get people to fill in a pre-adoption form. We evaluate them and if they’re OK, will carry out a home check if they are in Cyprus. We’re allowed to do this even with the restrictions.”
Home checks abroad, such as in the UK are carried out via Zoom, he said. A minimum donation of €100 per dog is required, although no money comes to the charity from UK re-homes as the new owners pay for the dogs flights. This can range from £400 to £700, he said.
“Even though we don’t ask for a donation from UK adopters, paying this money for flights really shows commitment thankfully.”
The shelter has been lucky with the continued donations from supporters who are still managing to hand over food, mops, bleach and other necessities and government support has also been welcomed.
“For the first time, we had a government grant of €10,000 for guttering at the shelter so that the dog pens don’t get flooded, we also had a usual €6,000 grant and also money for food,” he said.
As the shelter is currently closed to visitors, they can be contacted for enquiries about dogs available for adoption on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PawsDogShelter/).