Dog shelters in Cyprus are "filled to the brim", volunteers say, as they are daily called to take in abandoned dogs, while adoptions from the UK – where the majority of dogs go to – have plunged due to Brexit, the pandemic and the economic crisis.
Volunteers told CNA that this year, there has been an “unprecedented” rise in dog abandonments, and are calling on authorities to enforce the legislation on animal welfare and dogs to curb births, illegal breeding and stop people from abandoning their animals.
"We all need to be kinder to our animals, but the law needs to be enforced in terms of births and abandonment" -Evita Charalambous (volunteer)
Monica Mitsidou, a volunteer at D.O.G RESCUE CYPRUS, told CNA that, they always see higher numbers of abandoned dogs during the holidays and hunting seasons but, “this year, it was unparalleled.”
“All shelters are filled to the brim and all volunteers have reached their limits,” she said, adding that, this year, the situation is “unprecedented.” She believes, she said, that, one reason is the fact that many people, adopted dogs, “when they shouldn’t have”, during the coronavirus pandemic restrictions and, now they are going on holidays, and instead of taking them to a dog hotel or finding a solution that is suitable also for the dog, they either leave them in the yard and ask someone to go feed them, or they just let them go. She said there are solutions, such as dog hotels and pet sitters.
Mitsidou said that all the dog shelters are full, as adoptions from abroad have decreased a lot, especially from the UK, where most of the dogs are given up for adoption, because, the same thing happened in the UK as well. “During the pandemic millions of dogs were adopted, which are now being returned to shelters so that people can find a dog in the shelters there, why bring them from Cyprus which costs a lot," Mitsidou said, explaining that dogs’ travel expenses are included in the adoption package that must be paid by the person who wants to adopt.
Evita Charalambous, a volunteer at PAWS, said that there are many factors people abandon their dogs, including going on holiday, not being able to find a pet-friendly apartment to rent, but also not neutering their dogs and letting them breed non-stop.
She said that, now that adoptions from abroad have plunged, the “massive problem” faced in Cyprus as regards abandoned dogs has been revealed.
“These adoptions due to the economic situation, Brexit etc., have dropped. So now these strays, and especially dogs that are not wanted in Cyprus stay in shelters. We were essentially sweeping the problem under the rug, sending (dogs) abroad was not the solution," she said.
Charalambous said that the national legislation on animal welfare, “is quite good but not enforced.”
"We all need to be kinder to our animals, but the law needs to be enforced in terms of births and abandonments,” she said, adding that hunters themselves must also set rules, and expel from their community those who do not treat their dogs properly.
Mitsidou told CNA that volunteers go above and beyond to help as many unwanted and abandoned dogs, as possible, at the expense of their families and their own resources, but the law needs to be enforced and society needs to be educated about the responsibilities of owning a dog, and how to treat them in general.