Cyprus may be an idyllic holiday location, but it’s also home to animal cruelty on a frightening scale. Cruelty to dogs and cats makes frequent headlines, bird trapping is rife and the winter is devoted to hunting down what little remains of wildlife in the countryside.
As an individual, I like to think I have a balanced perspective. I hate the excesses of so-called ‘animal-lovers’ who go to extreme lengths to stop what they perceive to be animal cruelty. But I also think it’s wrong to cause animals any form of suffering.
Having lived in Cyprus for approaching four years, my senses have become dulled to the stray, starving dogs you so often see roaming the countryside.
Living in a remote location popular with hunters, I’ve become used to waking up on winter Sunday mornings to the sound of shooting (and often the rattle of shotgun pellets on the windows of our house from a particularly careless hunter).
But sometimes, despite the dulling of my senses to animal cruelty, I see something that shocks me.
So it was yesterday. I pulled into a petrol station to fill the car up, behind a lorry transporting a herd of goats. The goats were piled in three deep, literally. Yes, goats were standing on goats, and more goats were standing on them. The distressed animals were thrashing around trying to find some comfort in the scorching heat, and as they did so, some had got their legs stuck through the railings of the lorry and were bleating in extreme pain.
I thought about reporting the lorry at the local police station, but on balance it probably would have been pointless. Even if the police decided to do something about it, their action would be limited and probably ineffectual. And that’s the problem.
Nobody cares, and nobody thinks they’re doing anything wrong.
It was perhaps best illustrated at the time of the last local elections. The two competing candidates to be village Mukhtar repeatedly visited us to try to persuade us to vote for them. They both wanted to know what would make us vote for them rather than their competitor.
When we asked them to do something about the packs of starving stray dogs in our village, that wasn’t possible. It might win them the votes of two foreigners, but it would lose them a host of votes with the locals.
In summary, the local Cypriots don’t see anything wrong in the way they treat their animals, and see no need for change.
The cruelty goes on
So the cruelty will go on. The end of the hunting season will continue to be marked by the hunter’s dogs being turned out to fend for themselves (a.k.a. starve). The local birdlife will continue to be trapped and shot.
What will it take for people to see the wrong in what they are doing?