It was whilst researching rescue dogs for mum that I stumbled across Saving Pound Dogs, Cyprus (SPDC) on Instagram. I’d typed #rehome into the Explore section and up came this account run by Eve, a student who voluntarily runs their social media. We got talking and it soon became apparent how terrible the situation was in Cyprus with regards to the neglect and ill-treatment of animals over there. Now I’m singling out this charity and this country (I’ve personally witnessed the disgusting treatment of animals in other countries such as Korea, Singapore, Thailand and across Europe) but since I’ve followed Cyprus Dogs and gotten to know Eve a bit more, I wanted to share her story. It’s struck me whilst writing this, that here’s someone who I admire – after all, how many young adults get off their own back to do something like this? Please, share this story around and help where you can. Even a couple of pounds greatly helps towards food and vet bills. I’m also hoping the photos of cute dogs tug on your heartstrings and loosens your pockets…
I’ve always been an animal lover, specifically a dog lover. Ever since I was a child I would tell people that I was going to become a vet, or a member of the RSPCA, or at one point I think I actually told people I was going to become a dog. The aspirations of my childhood have lingered with me in the background for some time, and it wasn’t until I was visiting my father at his home in Cyprus this year that I thought maybe I could actually pursue this.
For those who don’t know, Cyprus suffers from an attitude of animal hatred. I would say about 80% of the country despise animals. Even those who own animals treat them as objects, and if they don’t look good enough, they get rid of them. It was whilst I was in Cyprus that it became apparent to me just how bad the situation was. Scrolling through Facebook, page after page of dog rescue establishments and organisations popped up, each one seeking help and support from the public. One in particular that caught my attention was the SPDC (Saving Pound Dogs, Cyprus) and I realised it was less that a ten minute drive away from where I was staying. I contacted the woman in charge who agreed to meet me and let me witness the situation first hand.
We all know that first impressions are important, and I think in this case it was the fact that the first impression of the pound was so negative that it really stuck with me. When we turned up, the sound of the vehicles made the dogs bark and howl like crazy, clearly desperate for attention and socialisation. In order to keep them safe a wire mesh fence surrounded the compound whilst a big, padlocked gate, trimmed with barbed wire secured it. The dogs that were visible were chained to the walls that only allowed them a couple of metres worth of movement, and their only source of shelter was an overturned recycling bin which acted as a kennel. Upon closer inspection all the smaller dogs were grouped together in a smaller compound within the yard. I couldn’t see them but the makeshift establishment yapped so intently that I could definitely be sure of their presence. The volunteers set about hosing the dogs down in the 40 degree heat, providing them with food and water and taking them for a walk. Given the fact that the municipality only allow the volunteers to enter the compound twice a week as the establishment belongs to them, they had to work quickly and effectively in order to get round the number of dogs present. It was very overcrowded and the dogs were craving attention. They were all so excited to see us there, it was honestly a mystery to me as to why none of them had homes. It really saddened me but it was clear that this was the absolute best that the pound could provide for these dogs as they just had no funds to better the situation.
I took my camera with me and photographed the dogs, the volunteers at work, and the state of the pound. It was whilst I was flicking through the photos later that night that I decided I was going to try and help. All I’d done was take photographs. I couldn’t regularly volunteer, so what could I do? Within a few days, and upon my arrival back in the UK I set up an Instagram account named Cyprus Dogs and uploaded the photos I’d taken the previous week. It took a while but gradually I gained more and more followers and suddenly the support became almost too much! I had to set up an individual email account to manage the queries and messages of appreciation and thanks. Within 5 weeks I had gained over 700 followers and many communicative supporters who would regularly contact me. I took my new found support as a chance to expose the danger of Parvovirus, Leishmania, heatstroke, poisoning and overcrowding in Cyprus and gave people the chance to donate to the cause. To date, I have raised almost £600, which I will present to the pound as a complete surprise when I visit over Christmas. Setting up the account over the summer was probably one of the best things I have ever decided to do. I was determined to make a difference and the influx of support I received was astounding. I now have contacts all over the world offering help and donations. I honestly cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to everybody.
I’ve come across some really sad stories whilst I’ve been volunteering, such as the female Dachshund who’s previous owner attempted to cut her ears off with scissors, the Doberman who was neglected to the point of near starvation and the Boxer who’s owner abandoned him because he was old and suffering from a tumour. I’m completely aware that we can’t save every dog, but knowing that we are capable of saving any of them just by working together and raising awareness is exceptionally rewarding. Unfortunately it is going to take a lot of educating and persistence to even attempt to change the attitude in Cyprus, but the more they’re exposed, the more the country will panic that their reputation is being tarnished. My family own 10 rescue dogs from Cyprus and amongst them we have hunting dogs that were abandoned after they proved useless during hunting season, bully breeds (Rottweilers/Boxers/Staffies etc) that were thrown out for not being ‘aggressive enough’ and dogs that were simply abandoned at a young age and left to die.