The animal police unit may be small, but it is a good start for Cyprus, officer in charge Vyronas Vyronos said on Wednesday in response to the Green party’s concerns about the unit’s viability.
The Green party said that representatives met with Justice Minister Stephie Drakou earlier this week to discuss the animal police unit, which began its operations in mid-May.
The meeting was attended by party leader Charalambos Theopemptou, deputy secretary general Adonis Yiangou, former MP Giorgos Perdikis and MP Anthi Mourouzi, who is in charge of the party’s animal action group, as well as deputy police chief Christos Mavris and other members of police.
Mourouzi said that the Greens welcomed the launch of the animal police unit because it had been “an enduring request of both the party and other animal welfare organisations”.
However, she added that the party also expressed its concerns about the unit being significantly short staffed despite receiving numerous complaints daily from all over the island.
“At the moment the animal police unit is staffed by only 16 officers islandwide, who are making a superhuman effort to carry out their work,” she said.
During the meeting the Greens also raised the issue of insufficient equipment for the animal police unit, “which is necessary in helping officers smoothly carry out their duty of investigating cases of animal abuse”.
Vyronos, the officer in charge of the animal police unit, told the Cyprus Mail that there is a general shortage of staff across the police force, which is reflected in all its different units.
Cyprus was in dire need of the unit, he said, adding that the decision to finally create it was a very fortunate one and a positive step.
“Our position is that the current iteration of the unit – albeit short-staffed – is a good start for animal welfare in Cyprus,” he added.
In late August, he told the Cyprus Mail that the unit had investigated over 200 incidents of potential abuse or mistreatment.
The unit’s investigations take place in cooperation with the veterinary services and occasionally the game and fauna service, who can diagnose and offer insights into potential cases of abuse or mistreatment.
“We will continue to collaborate with them and our goal is to foster better communication with animal welfare organisations and the public,” Vyronos said.
He said that so far the public has been cooperative with the authorities, which is vital for the survival and potential growth of the unit.