MPs are reviewing a bill introducing hefty fines for dog owners who abandon their pets, leading to a huge increase in strays in Cyprus.
According to the new legislation, abandoning a dog could see its owner sent to prison for up to 12 months and/or paying a fine of €2,000.
If repeated, the owner is subject to imprisonment of up to 24 months and/or a fine of €4,000.
The same penalties will apply to any dog owner who tries to deceive the competent authority by not registering their pet or does not take measures to prevent it from escaping or allowing the dog to run free on property that does not belong to them.
Dog owners who keep their pets in unsuitable living conditions are also subject to the same penalties.
The practice to be adopted will see offending dog owners handed a fine with a 30-day notice.
If the fine is not paid on time, it will increase by 50%, while the case will be referred to the police if the fine is not paid after 45 days.
The new legislation will also stipulate hefty fines for those who do not bother to pick up their dog’s poop when walking their pet.
For failure to immediately pick up their dog’s poop from a public area, the fine is €300.
The bill also provides a penalty of €200 for possessing a dog without a license.
The competent local authority will slap a €200 fine on owners who fail to take measures to reduce nuisance barking.
Animal organisations have welcomed the planned amendment to the Dogs Law, stressing that the current legislation does not foresee any penalties for dog abandonment.
Currently, the law on dog ownership stipulates that dog owners only pay an annual dog ownership license fee of €5 for neutered dogs and €30 for non-neutered dogs.
They are also obliged to inform authorities in case of a change of residency while also having an obligation to inform people passing by the house of the presence of a dog.
If a dog is given to a new owner or dies, authorities must once more be notified.
Dogs must also be chipped with the owner’s details.
“Just having to pay a penalty of €30 for owning a non-neutered dog does nothing to solve the problem of dog abandonment,” a representative of the Cyprus Voice for Animals federation told Phileleftheros daily.
The animal rights group representative said that authorities would need to ensure that any legislation passed will be enforced.
“There have been laws on animal ownership since 2002, none of which have been implemented, paving the way for the number of stray dogs roaming the island’s streets to explode.
There are thought to be around 200,000 stray dogs in Cyprus, while rescue shelters are brimming over.
“We can’t cope. There is no more room for stray dogs at shelters, no money, and no adoptions.
“One dog leaves, and another one takes its place,” said the CVA representative.
One of the biggest problems is that most dogs are not chipped, so owners cannot be tracked down.