Cyprus: Spike in stray dogs since onset of crisis

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - Animal welfare groups in Cyprus say that the deep financial crisis roiling this island nation may be forcing people to abandon their pet dogs.

Vicky Nicolaou, president of the Nicosia Dog Shelter said Wednesday she estimates that the number of stray dogs have tripled since March, when Cyprus struck a deal with international lenders for a loan that crushed the country's banking sector.

"It used to be that there would be five strays a month, now it's up to 10 a week," Nicolaou said.

People's economic woes are a key factor behind this spike in strays, said Mary Anastasi, president of Cyprus Voice for Animals.

Nicosia Municipality Health Services chief Michalis Lagos said more strays have been rounded up between March and August than in previous months. He said 80 strays have been picked up so far this year, compared to 95 last year and 75 the year before.

People's economic woes are a key factor behind this spike in strays, said Mary Anastasi, president of Cyprus Voice for Animals.

Nicolaou said her shelter is filled to capacity with the 130 dogs, including terriers, poodles and Labradors. Several dogs have found homes in Britain.

Animal welfare groups want tougher enforcement of laws requiring dog owners to register their pets and implant them with electronic identification devices.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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