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Dog abandonment at crisis point

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The situation of abandoned dogs has greatly worsened, warned Municipality of Nicosia officials and the pound where local authorities take the strays.

Another factor for the overpopulation of shelters is that adoptions from abroad have decreased as efforts have shifted to rescuing strays from Ukraine.

The President of the Cyprus Veterinary Association, Nektaria Arsenoglou, told CNA that it was important that all dog owners observe the law and have their dogs microchipped and licenced.

Michalis Papadakis, responsible for stray dogs at the Municipality of Nicosia for the last 20 years, said that the situation “has worsened a lot” after the coronavirus restrictions when everyone was getting a dog so they would be allowed to go out.

The unified pound where the Municipalities of Nicosia, Aglandjia, Strovolos, Lakatamia, Engomi and Agios Dometios take stray dogs they collect has a capacity of 70 animals, but now it has more than 100.

“But building shelters is not a solution”, Papadakis said, noting that many dogs stay in shelters for one to two years.

Papadakis said that when the shelter was built about seven years ago, 70 was sufficient, but since then, the situation had “rapidly deteriorated”.

He said that adoptions abroad have greatly decreased, noting that most adoptions used to take place in the UK but that after Brexit, it was not that easy.

Also, the war in Ukraine has had a big impact, he added, since people from other countries, such as the UK and the Netherlands, were now taking in strays from Ukraine.

He said there was a need for stricter legislation on animal abandonment, but also out-of-court fines for violations of the law.

“The root of the problem is births; convincing owners to neuter/spay their animals is important.”

Arsenoglou told CNA that it was important for all dog owners to observe the law and have their dogs microchipped; in this way, it would be more difficult for people to abandon their dogs.

She said people need to know it was illegal not to have their dog microchipped.

Alexandros Oriettas, the unified pound caretaker managed by Simba Animal Aid Cyprus, told CNA this was “the worst year in a decade” for abandonments.

He said this happens not only in the summer when people go on holidays but year-round.

Dogs at the pound that people had taken in during the pandemic so they could go out during lockdown, but they didn’t want them after that.

“Dogs that were adopted as puppies, but after the owners realised the responsibility, they didn’t want them, and their puppies gave birth on the streets.

“There are also cases whereby people decided that they can no longer afford their dogs due to the financial situation.”

Oriettas urged people to adopt instead of buying a dog.