Readers Mail

Stray thoughts about Stray Animals

Readers mail….
From Nuheh Talitta….

Imagine walking down a quiet road when a car shudders to a halt 50 metres in front of you, a bundle is thrown out of it and then it races off. When you check the bundle you find that it contains half a dozen newborn puppies or kittens. By the time you discover this the car has disappeared, its driver forever unknown.

You are immediately faced with a painful dilemma. Should you leave the animals where they are or not. You might leave them in the hope that somebody else may find and rescue them. If rescue does not come they will, most likely, be killed by another passing car, dehydration or starvation. They could well end up as supper for a marauding fox or a hungry snake. On the other hand, if you pick them up what will you do with them? Keep them? Try and find a home for them? Call Rob the Dog? Do you take them to an animal rescue centre or municipal pound knowing that these are already overwhelmed with stray and abandoned animals and are running out of money unable to support more mouths?

The animal rescue charities, such as KAR and Hope for Pets do extraordinary work caring for and re-homing abandoned animals, neutering those they cannot accommodate and nursing ill or injured discarded pets. They also try to spread the word about responsible pet ownership.  Despite all their efforts the problem seems to get worse year after year. Whilst there are thousands of animals in the care of all the animal rescues and municipal pounds there are many thousands more which have been adopted by individuals or which are tolerated by restaurants and supermarkets.  It is difficult to know the total number of animals involved but, nationwide, it could be as many as 100,000.  How can so many animals be abandoned in such a small country?

It does not take a genius to see that most of these unwanted puppies and kittens arrive as a result of their parents not being neutered.  Many pet owners who do not neuter their animals couldn’t care less and are just plainly irresponsible. Others, who need to show their machismo, refuse to neuter their dogs believing that the size of the testicles hanging from the back end of their unnecessarily large dog is a good advertisement for the size of their own equipment.

A male dog can mate twice a day so that with a big enough harem of available females he could sire 4 to 5000 puppies a year.  Of course, that is extremely unlikely to happen but a single dog could easily father 1- 200 puppies a year.  With cats the figure is likely to be even higher!

At the end of every hunting season flea and tick infested hunting dogs are simply thrown out to avoid the cost of feeding them until the next hunting season.  Also discarded are all those pets which are no longer kittens or puppies but hungry i.e. costly adult animals.

I think that the problem is made worse by the very existence of the animal charities.  People who may have had a remnant of concern for their animals may be able to clear their conscience of guilt by clandestinely dumping them at the gates of KAR or K9 or the Animal Sanctuary.

Education may be an answer, although the animal charities are already trying this.  Caring for your animals is similar to caring for the whole of the natural environment which is, in northern Cyprus as in many other places, undergoing devastating destruction.  Perhaps it is just a frame of mind that allows people to destroy everything around them in the hope that somebody else will come to their rescue and pick up the bill.

Is there an alternative to the animal rescue centres and the volunteer adopters?  Of course there is.  It does not take much to prepare a sensible legal structure to control responsible animal ownership, both cats and dogs.  In fact, there are already plenty of laws which would go a long way to reducing the problem of unwanted pets.  But no law is worth the paper on which it is written unless it is vigorously and dispassionately enforced.  A Pet Police force might work if it was adequately funded from pet licence fees and big fines for non-compliance.  Given that successive governments have shown no stomach for enforcing the laws for the protection of the environment the chance of it implementing an effective “Pets Law” is fairly remote.

If the authorities are unable or unwilling to act decisively we will be left in the present unsatisfactory situation.  Perhaps the surplus of pets will be valued more highly if sold to countries where they are highly appreciated, perhaps as Gaejang-guk.

Yours sincerely
Nuheh Talitta

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