The Dog’s Life in Cyprus as Evicted Man’s Best Friend

The Dog’s Life in Cyprus as Evicted Man’s Best Friend

Cyprus dog shelters are overflowing in what some volunteers call a crisis caused by the abandonment of adopted canines during Covid, as well as complications stemming from Brexit.

“Shelters are full,” said Monica Mitsidou of Dog Rescue Cyprus.

Dog adoptions were made by many people “when they shouldn’t” during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mitsidou told the Cyprus news agency, calling the situation “unprecedented”.

During Cyprus’s toughest restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus in 2020 and early 2021, dog walking was one of the few reasons people were allowed to leave their homes.

Evita Charalambous, a PAWS (Cyprus Association for the Protection and Care of Animals) volunteer, blamed “the economic situation” and Brexit for fewer adoptions, saying Cyprus was facing a “huge problem”.

But she also said people are not getting their dogs spayed and pointed out difficulties finding apartments that accept pets.

Volunteers say demand for Cypriot dog adoptions has plummeted, particularly in Britain, which is often one of the top destinations for dogs on the eastern Mediterranean island.

“Brexit has affected us tremendously,” said Constantina Constantinou, a volunteer with the non-profit organization Saving Pound Dogs Cyprus (SPDC).

“The bureaucracy is much more complicated,” she told AFP, and the dog’s travel costs have also risen sharply, making it “much more difficult” for Britons to receive dogs from EU member Cyprus.

It is estimated that over 3,000 dogs are housed in shelters across Cyprus.

On the outskirts of the capital Nicosia, a husky on a purple and black collar looked from its pen to a sanctuary run by the SPDC, while other dogs nearby barked or scratched at the ground.

– ‘It’s not the solution’ –

At another shelter on the outskirts of Nicosia run by Simba Animal Aid Cyprus, several dogs played together in a large pen, while others sought refuge in the shade from the summer heat or drank water from a bucket.

Andreas Tsavellas, 43, from Simba, said the number of strays “is always increasing” due to “the economic crisis and other factors”.

“We get five to 20 dogs a week – found on the streets by city halls and then brought to us,” he told AFP.

But he played down the idea that people adopted dogs during the height of Covid-19 restrictions as an excuse to leave, saying, “We don’t have enough data to prove it.”

“We have always had cases of abandonment, not only during the pandemic,” he said.

Volunteers urged authorities to enforce animal welfare legislation and curb illegal breeding and dumping, often by hunters.

“The government must take serious decisions… and take steps to make neutering (dogs) a law,” said SPDC’s Constantinou, adding that more checks are needed on the importation of dogs.

Others said the dogs’ current dilemma highlighted a different issue.

“Sending (dogs) abroad was not the solution,” PAWS’ Charalambous told the Cyprus news agency.

“We were essentially sweeping the problem under the rug.”

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