International animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA) has raised grave concerns about cruelty and neglect of street dogs on the tourist island of Cyprus.

Luke Barritt, a campaigner for NFA, said mass poisonings are taking place in what seems to be an attempt to exterminate as many street dogs as possible. “Food laced with poison is fed to the dogs, who die in agony. “This medieval cruelty takes place unchecked by the authorities who are complicit in breaking the laws that protect animals,” said Barritt. “Local people are often scornful of attempts to help animals, and politicians regard animal welfare as beneath them. They do nothing to stop it.

“Cyprus depends heavily on tourism, and it is not in the country’s best interest to be known as a place where routine cruel extermination of street dogs is taking place. Our supporters repeatedly tell us they won’t go to countries that abuse animals and Cyprus is a place where animal cruelty is rampant. Nor should what happens in Cyprus be accepted by the international community. Cyprus is a member of the European Union (EU) that has community-wide animal welfare regulations. Cyprus simply ignores them.”

The country has an exploding population of stray dogs, mostly because they are frequently abandoned by their owners,” said Barritt. “Many local people still believe in superstitions relating to animals, including that street dogs are inherently dangerous and dirty and that hurting them is not wrong. They are literally massacring street dogs while the authorities do nothing.”

NFA partner, local animal shelter ‘Stray Haven’ near Limassol is trying to care for 150 dogs, with more arriving every day. In one recent tragedy, eight orphaned puppies were rescued from the side of a road while their mother lay dead nearby. She had been poisoned.

“Local volunteers and charities like ours, do our best to explain why this is cruel and wrong, but the problem will only be solved when the authorities act. We have no law enforcement powers, and the police are disinterested in prosecuting which needs to change,” said Barritt.