THE PAPHOS district office has refused to grant permission to the charitable organisation Cyprus Voice for Animals (CVA) to operate a direct telephone line through which the public could contribute euro 1.71 to help animals in need.
The organisation needs the permission of all five district offices in Cyprus to operate the service which is run in co operation with CyTA. They say that in 2010, the CVA was given the go ahead by all of the districts and successfully raised €3,237.07.
CVA members include the Nicosia Dog Shelter, the Argos and Sirius shelters, Capca, the Donkey Sanctuary, Malcomcat, Peyia Animal Rescue, Cat Snip. Zootropion Nicosia, and Love and Care for Animals.
Secretary of the CVA Stella Stylianou told the Sunday Mail: “We were astonished that the Paphos district officer refused permission for this year as we were granted it last year and the other districts have continued with their support. The actions of Paphos means that CyTA is no longer able to continue offering this much needed service.”
The direct charity line – 909-30671- was established in 2010 between the Union of Cyprus Animal Welfare Organisations- Cyprus Voice for Animals- and CyTA. At the end of the allotted period, the CVA submitted a new application to the five District Administrations to renew the operating licence for the telephone line. Approval was received from four of the districts but according to Stylianou, Paphos refused on the basis that the Charities Fund Raising Law does not cover animal charities.
She said: “We received a reply stating that based on the law, permission was not being granted to us as the law states permission may be granted for philanthropic charities. The district officer said because it didn’t specifically mention animal charities that we were being refused. But it also says that permission may be granted at the discretion of the district officer. It makes no sense to us.”
But the Paphos acting District Officer, Christina Rodosthenous said that her hands were tied.
“All decisions by the District Office are taken within the provisions of the law and in this case permission is not allowed to be granted as the relevant law refers to philanthropic ventures and not to animals.”
As far as discretionary decisions go she pointed out, “The District Officer is permitted within the law, to use discretion to give a negative response to something which is allowed by law, but we are not permitted to give a positive response to matters which are not within the boundaries of the law, such as in this case.”
Effectively this means that in terms of philanthropic cases, the district officer has the discretionary power to decide if a cause is worthy or not. In the case of animals, because they are not covered, she is not in a position to use that discretionary power under the regulations.
Rodosthenous said she couldn’t comment on the matter of the other districts giving their permission for the charity line and underlined that she is not biased against animals or animal charities as had been suggested.
“To suggest that I don’t like animals is completely wrong. I’m not against animals or this charity. In fact, they are doing a really good job and I hope they find other means, such as organising social events, to raise the money.”
The acting District Officer added that to the best of her knowledge, Paphos had never given permission for the charity line to operate.
“I have the correspondence from the previous District Officer, and as far as I can see, permission was not granted in 2010 either.”
Stylianou said: “We have written a letter to the minister of the interior about the situation and a lawyer has now offered her services to us free of charge. If the district officer refuses to budge on her decision, we will have no option but to go ahead with legal proceedings.”
Mary Chrysochou-Anastasi, the president of the CVA said in a statement: “We consider this attitude by Paphos, whose discriminatory decision is undermining our work, unacceptable. It is well-known that animal charities face enormous difficulties in their efforts to do their work and instead of the expected support, we found hostile discrimination. Even though we wrote a letter stressing the fact that the public is not obliged to telephone but people do so of their own free will, they still refused, thus depriving animal-loving citizens of an opportunity to offer a small assistance through the easy method of telephone direct lines.”
This story was provided by the Cyprus Mail.