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Dog ownership law tightened after stray attack

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Authorities are toughening laws on dog ownership to clamp down on pet abandonment and reduce the number of strays on the island’s streets and attacks.

A bill approved by the cabinet comes a week after an eight-year-old child was seriously injured in an attack by a stray dog in Limassol.

The bill amends the national dog law, clarifying the responsibilities of both the authorities involved and those of dog owners, said the Agriculture Ministry in a statement on Thursday.

The ministry said it introduces more straightforward procedures and penalties that will allow for out-of-court settlement of offences, promote responsible ownership, and tackle the “huge problem” of stray dogs.

The bill will also improve conditions under which stray dogs are managed, emphasising adoption.

In securing a dog ownership license from local authorities, the marking and registration of dogs will also be tweaked to ensure the animals are not mistreated.

Through the bill, the government also wants to improve responses to incidents involving dangerous dogs.

A stray Rottweiler is thought to have attacked the boy in Ayios Ioannis, Limassol.

After being treated in intensive care on a ventilator, the child underwent surgery to restore damage from injuries suffered to the face.

Following the incident, the Animal Party slammed authorities, saying the attack was yet another incident down to the government’s inaction to enforce the law.

Two dogs involved in the attack on the boy were drawn to the area by cages with hunting dogs in the vicinity.

“The situation is out of control, and everyone just does whatever they want because they simply do not feel the presence of the authorities,” the Animal Party said.

The bill drafted with the contribution of the veterinary services following public consultation will be tabled to parliament.

There are thought to be around 200,000 stray dogs in Cyprus, while rescue shelters are also full.