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The animal rescue angels of Cyprus

By Janice Ruffle
President Nicos Anastasiades has called on the media to increase its efforts in combating animal abuse in Cyprus. The announcement was made shortly after the recent accidental death of the President’s dog Leo.

Is the Palace unaware of the painstakingly long term campaigning for change on deaf ears?

Cyprus – animal death trap
We all know (with the exception of a chosen few – wishing to remain nameless) that Cyprus is overrun with stray dogs and feral cats.  Public shelters are full and struggling financially.

Unwanted litters are suffocated and thrown in dustbins. Incapable hunting dogs are abandoned after the season, often thrown from vehicle to motorway. Perilous for both the dog and driver.

And with unsterilized dogs and cats roaming freely, unwanted litters end up as litter.

Labour of love
I was touched by the devotion of June and Michael Ratcliff who, with their own savings, have set up an animal rescue shelter ‘Cyprus Pride House’, near Limassol. They rescue, rehabilitate and re-home (where possible) abandoned and abused dogs and cats.

“We moved to Cyprus from the UK in June 2002 hoping to begin a peaceful, simple life relaxing in the sun by the sea,” says June.
Unfortunately, it has been entirely the reverse for the Ratcliffs.

“We no longer have time or money for relaxation and enjoyment. Instead we struggle every day to help dogs and cats that are challenging survival and cruelty,” she explains.

The couple have rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed over a thousand abandoned and abused dogs and cats since their move to Cyprus.

They also operate a programme for neutering and feeding feral animals, made possible by self-funding and public donations. “We’ve even rescued cats that have been hit by cars left to die, resulting in broken bones and many other injuries,” Michael says.

SOS Appeal
Without people like the Ratcliff’s, Cyprus would continue to be a landscape grave for innocent animals. Thankfully, with the help of friends and supporters in the UK, the Ratcliff’s have been able to find homes there and in other European countries for some of the rescued animals.

Their appeal to officials in Cyprus has been to no avail. “We often report cruelty, poisoning and neglect to the government vet service and police who are responsible for animal welfare issues,” says June.

“Endless emails go unanswered. How will anything change if no one upholds the law?” she concludes.

They have reached a critical point and are appealing for help. Can you find it in your heart to help Mr President? Volunteers, donations, anything that will make their plight ‘animal rescue angels’ a little easier, will be gratefully received.

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