Cyprus, the land of strays, exports up to 5,000 dogs and cats every year, deputies heard at the house environment committee on Wednesday.

In the last seven years, some 30,000 dogs have emigrated to other countries, mainly Germany and the UK, with animal welfare organisations saying the procedures followed were lawful.

The cost of transport is borne by the recipients and future guardians of the pets abroad.

The deputy chairman of the environment committee and Akel deputy Nikos Kettiros said that Cyprus was chosen by people abroad wanting to adopt pets because there were thousands of stray animals here.

Regarding checks, deputies were informed that the state veterinary services were monitoring the transfers and checking all the documentation regarding the destination of the animals.

The data were reported during the discussion of the bill on the extension of animal shelter licences for another 48 months. In practice this would be for another 17 months because the extension was retroactive explained Kettiros who asked the veterinary services to participate in the next meeting.

“There is no reason to pass legislation that will once again sweep problems under the carpet,” Kettiros said in a written statement after the meeting.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of the animals and the people who are involved in these shelters.”

Deputies called on the state to provide practical support the shelters and highlighted the need to implement strict controls on the living conditions and care of the animals at these shelters

According to Kettiros, there are dog and cat shelters next to slaughterhouses and sewage plants that are located near the occupied areas.

Under these conditions, Kettiros said “someone could possibly say that there is animal abuse.”