It is time we stood up and recognised that all cats and dogs deserve better than to be kept until they are no longer cute, cannot hunt, then turned on to the streets to fend for themselves, exposed to over-breeding, lack of food, vulnerability, shelter, disease and sometimes a health hazard resulting in persecution by cruel neglectful people and often inhumane methods of killing — in some cases treated as if they are nothing more than vermin that needs to be eradicated.
Here in the TRNC there are organisations and individuals working tirelessly every day to help abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats and also to try to prevent further breeding due to serious overpopulation.
We come together daily on social networks, giving time and commitment, trying to raise money and awareness, to rehome, foster and adopt abandoned pets, and to make appeals on the animals’ behalf.
Often we use our own private funds to help unwanted dogs and cats receive the much needed veterinary care they require.
Unfortunately these dedicated efforts will remain insufficient as long as more animals are being added to this sad cycle.
This mess is created by a society that does not understand the concept and responsibilities of animal ownership and by the small proportion of people who have a low regard for animals. There are more animals in need of a loving family than there are kind people willing to provide them with a good permanent homes, so supply significantly outstrips demand.
A new approach is needed with immediate effect, so that overpopulation of cats and dogs can be controlled with a temporary compulsory neutering programme, until this sad cycle is broken.
Welfare concerns alone should be at the heart of the programme. Such a change in existing legislation would help reduce the overpopulation of strays here in the TRNC.
The one-time cost of neutering is far lower than the expense of building new shelters and the ongoing expense of staff, land, electric costs and food. Spaying and neutering is a routine procedure and can prevent hundreds of dogs and cats being born only to suffer needlessly. Just one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in six years. In seven years one female cat and her offspring can produce 370,000 kittens.
If legislation can’t be changed then I propose the following measures:
❐ Employ a dedicated workforce of people who are compassionate about animal welfare and who are willing to help make it right.
❐ Impose bans on keeping dogs that are used for fighting or used just to breed for hunting,
❐ Stop animals being sold in pet shops
❐ Educate animal owners about their duties and responsibilities and prosecute those who do not fulfil them
Building more shelters is not the answer, although it’s a good job we have existing ones otherwise hundreds of dogs would be roaming the streets of the TRNC. A dog’s experience can be still pretty bad in a shelter; they live in small spaces, in a permanent state of anxiety, just waiting and hoping they will be adopted into a forever home. Due to the overpopulation problems many dogs end up spending large chunks of their lives in a shelter. Many staff do their best for them but some never experience true freedom.
Animals are a lifelong commitment and deserve protection from suffering through a change in law. The TRNC should be working towards the day when dogs and cats can enjoy a happy life, free from cruelty and unnecessary destruction. It can do this quickly and easily by implementing a temporary compulsory neutering programme on stray and abandoned dogs and cats.
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