The agriculture ministry on Tuesday defended its actions over animal welfare, saying that concerns by the Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) were understandable but completely disregarded the government’s efforts.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis claimed that Cyprus’ integrated framework on the protection and welfare of animals had in fact introduced a number of new programmes, laws and actions that were “pioneering” across the EU.

A day earlier, Toulla Poyiadji, head of the CSPCA said hundreds of animals are being poisoned on a daily basis and the stray dog crisis is worse than ever.

Kadis’ response outlined a list of regulatory developments “which strengthen the protection and welfare of animals”. These include the move to up fines for animal abuse from €1,700 to €10,000 for first offenders and increasing the €3,400 fine to €20,000 for repeat offenders.

The government has also banned keeping cats and dogs on roofs, balconies and terraces, either on a leash or openly. Dolphinariums have also been banned, to prohibit keeping marine mammals in captivity.

State funding for animal shelters and animal welfare organisations has increased to €100,000 “recognising their valuable actions,” Kadis said.

A scheme to support local authorities in creating temporary shelter for stray dogs worth €1.5 million was also approved for the period 2022-2024, Kadis noted.

Government funding for neutering stray cats increased to €100,000 from €75,000 while a lump sum of extra €50,000 was donated to animal welfare groups during Covid-19 lockdowns, the minister added.

Meanwhile, in cooperation with the justice ministry, a protocol to investigate reports of animal abuse was established, describing what vets should be on the lookout for.