Animal shelters swamped by abandoned ‘COVID dogs’

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The end of COVID and the cost-of-living crisis have seen more dogs abandoned by owners unable to keep their pets, or they had fulfilled their purpose during lockdown when people were allowed outdoors to walk their dog.

“It’s raining dogs at animal shelters,” said an animal rights organisation volunteer in comments to Phileleftheros daily, noting that in 10 days, their organisation picked up 48 puppies and seven adult abandoned dogs.

Andreas Tsavellas, who works for the non-profit animal welfare organisation Simba Animal Aid Cyprus, said the number of abandoned dogs had reached record heights this summer.

Simba Animal Aid Cyprus has temporary reception areas for stray dogs in the municipalities of Nicosia, Aglantzia, Strovolos, Lakatamia, Ayios Dometios and Engomi.

Their facilities can accommodate 60 dogs.

However, they now have 110 and care for another 12 in other areas.

“All animal shelters are overcrowded. It is estimated that more than 3,000 are housed in dog shelters throughout Cyprus”.

Tsavellas attributed the increased number of abandoned dogs to the increased cost of living, with pets being an ‘easy’ expenditure cut for owners.

He argued that the end of the pandemic was also behind the phenomenon.

“During the pandemic, a lot of people got a dog, so they could leave their house during lockdowns twice a day for a walk without having to send a text.

“Many of these ‘COVID dogs’ were later abandoned by their owners after they had served their purpose. Unfortunately, this is what has happened in several countries.”

He urged people to be more responsible before adopting a pet, especially dogs.

“It is a 10 to 20-year commitment.”

People wanting to adopt a dog from one of the organisation’s shelters can visit from Mondays to Fridays between 9 am and 4 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm.