“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Gandhi.

A recentCypriot court decision sheds hope as a changing stance in the way that authorities will treat incidents of animal neglect and abuse from now on, in an attempt to sensitize the Cypriot public to animals and their great significance to a society. In the past, animal welfare and animal rights have not been a priority for Cypriots and the governing authorities. Initiation of procedures against animal abusers has proven to be full of legal obstacles, and in the few situations where a case has been brought regarding animal abuse the sentence has not reflected the severity of the crime.

However, on Friday 15/1/2016, as reported by many news sources, a man from Larnaca was sentenced to two months in jail for mistreatment and abuse of two dogs, incidents which took place almost four years ago.  The two dogs were reportedly kept in very dire conditions and were found by a tourist who then proceeded to alert the authorities and subsequently animal sanctuaries active in the island. One of the dogs was found with wounds on its whole body, very little food and dirty water in a terrible state while following medical examinations and treatment it was found to suffer from a blood disease which, left untreated, could eventually lead to its death. The other puppy which was approximately 3 months old was found in a small plastic box, with an eye infection and many wounds on its body.

Following the report of the incident, police arrived at the scene with the veterinary services.  Approximately four years after the incident, the local Court convicted the owner to two months in prison for the mistreatment, which in our opinion undoubtedly constitutes abuse and even torture. Based on the Protection and Welfare of Animals Law 1994 – 2000, an animal owner/keeper is forbidden from exposing or imposing on an animal pain, suffering, injury or fear without reasonable cause. An owner/keeper is also obliged under article 6 of the aforementioned Law to provide an animal that is under their care with food, water, care and shelter where this is necessary.  Regarding sentencing, the maximum sentence which can be imposed on an individual for animal abuse as defined in the Law is 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of €1,700. As can be deduced from the maximum sentencing provided for in the Law, the welfare and protection of animals is not granted the severity it should be by the Lawmakers.

While the recent two months prison sentence imposed on the guilty individual for the mistreatment and abuse of the two dogs is a positive step towards the right direction, it does not suffice to become an exemplary form of justice so as to act as a deterrent for other individuals who neglect, mistreat, abuse and torture animals. It does however prove that incidents of such neglect and abuse will no longer go unnoticed by Authorities.

At G KOUZALIS LLC we feel that it is not only our legal obligation to refrain from any actions that will jeopardise the welfare and life of animals, but it is also our moral and ethical obligation to protect and defend animals.