Coronavirus: Animal Party, shelters appeal for help as strays threatened with starvation (March 2020)

By Annette Chrysostomou and Bejay Browne
Cyprus Mail – March 23, 2020 – See Article Here.

The Animal Party on Monday warned that animals, especially cats, are in imminent danger of starvation because of the measures taken against coronavirus.

Many cats are going hungry because they were being fed by restaurants and tavernas which are now closed, head of the Animal Party Kyriacos Kyriacou explained. Dogs are more likely to be fed in shelters.

“Cats are now roaming the streets and jumping into garbage bins, they might get killed,” Kyriacou said, adding many of them may starve to death. It’s a tragedy for cats he said but also dangerous for humans.

“Think of all the dead bodies lying in the streets.”

An added issue is that pensioners are often those with the time and inclination to feed them, but are understandably loath to leave their homes for fear of the virus.

“One couple told me they used to feed 35 cats and now they cannot go out,” the head of the party said.

Volunteer shelters are in a bad shape, some are closing their doors, and because of a ban on airline flights, dogs and cats that would have been adopted abroad a short while ago don’t have that option at present.

Other shelters that are funded partly by secondhand shops are also struggling with the shops now closed.

In Paphos, animal shelters and volunteers are appealing for urgent help as people are turning out their pets on the streets and in an extreme case, have even requested a healthy cat be euthanised.

“Adoptions have slowed down, and donations are drying up. Abandonment of pets is increasing. We had 10 dogs and one cat abandoned in one day last week. One case saw a cat’s owner bring it in wanting it to be put to sleep. It was perfectly healthy and we refused,” a spokesman for Animal Rescue Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.

She added that many pet owners are concerned that their pets may pass on the coronavirus and they may catch it from them.

“We inform the public that it cannot be passed on according to the information we have and that they should keep their pets safe just as they want to keep themselves safe.”

The ‘Cat lady’ of Paphos, Gaynor Georgiou said that the coronavirus outbreak is a disaster. After feeding the town’s stray cats daily for over 30 years, she has had to now cut back to every other day, as food donations are running out, and her own money can only stretch so far.

“The streets of the old town are deserted and when they see me approach, dozens of cats come running to be fed. Many of them are new ones that I’ve never seen. Now there are even dogs, some with collars, are running to be fed. It’s terrible and it’s been like this for the last few days,” she said.

Kyriacou said one positive development is a likely collaboration of the Animal Party with municipalities, whereby volunteers will be sent to different parts of the towns to distribute pet food to stray animals.

Kyriacou has contacted the head of the municipalities’ union, Andreas Vyras, about this and told the Cyprus Mail Vyras has responded positively.

However, in the meantime the Animal Party asks all who can help to donate dry or canned food.

“Let us become a chain and help as many as we can in these difficult days of our country. After all, animals have nothing but us,” the party urged.