A wide-ranging bill which seeks to completely overhaul dog ownership regulations threatens harsh spot fines of up to €300, but animal rights groups question whether it will be enforced.
Don’t pick up your dog poop? €300 fine. Not doing enough to stop your dog from barking? €200 fine. Owning a dog without registering it? €200 fine. You get the idea.
The legislation being discussed at the House environment committee sets out to tackle all manners of unsocial, irresponsible, and dangerous behaviour.
Charalambos Theopemptou, Green party leader and committee chair, told the Cyprus Mail on Thursday that the latest proposal seeks to refine the 2002 dog law.
“The purpose is to clearly define how to own a dog,” he said, explaining that it will tackle uncontrolled breeding and subsequent animal abuse such as abandoning unwanted animals.
For example, the bill sets out for a yearly registration certificate which will require the dog’s health booklet for renewal. The fee would be €5 for neutered dogs and up to €30 for non-neutered dogs.
But those present at Wednesday’s committee meeting included animal welfare organisations, all of whom expressed deep concern over enforcement of the regulations.
“There is no point in preparing the perfect legislation if in the end it is not enforced,” Nicosia Dog Shelter said bluntly.
Asked on this point, Theopemptou told the Cyprus Mail that “every time we pass a law there are four key criteria: to pass the right law, whether there is the right infrastructure, to have people in place and enforcement”.
“Unfortunately we lack in every single aspect, we are not impressed by the local authorities who did very little to enforce the 2002 dog law – such as the microchip regulation,” Theopemptou said.
Referring to the feebly enforced 2002 law, Theopemptou explained that it, too, set harsh measures to control breeds of dogs deemed dangerous.
Theopemptou reiterated that the local authorities are responsible for enforcement.
“If that legislation had been enforced then there wouldn’t be these types of breeds now,” he said.
Theopemptou explained that both the previous legislation and the proposed amendments restrict the breeding and sale of such breeds.
Notably, however, if you already own such a dog then you are allowed to keep it – but the idea is that they will phased out.
For its part, the Game and Fauna Fund stated that 36,000 hunting dogs have been microchipped.
“Hunters register their dogs, checks are carried out daily,” they added.
Theopemptou told us that there’s a delicate balancing act to be made – attempting to stave off unintended consequences.
For example, some are cautious of imposing a €30 annual registration fee for dogs which are not neutered, as there are concerns these will simply be abandoned.
Elsewhere, the bill stipulates that owners’ must register the death of their dog within seven days and if it has been stolen or lost within two days.
All registered dogs will have a metal “dog tag” on their collar, detailing the owner’s contact details and the dog’s registration number.
Also, all dogs over the age of two months will have a collar when outdoors.
The Cyprus Mail reported on the first round of discussions of the bill last year.