LETTERS ON CYPRUS
I have lived in Cyprus for 11 years. I love this country and the people who are mostly kind and generous. However, one Sunday recently I and my friend walked our four dogs along Melanda Beach, Avdimou towards Pissouri, a walk we have taken nearly every week for the last nine years sometimes with my grandchildren.
This is one of the few beaches registered for dog walking and we have always believed it to be safe from poison and hunters. On the return from the cliffs the dogs ran onto the beach. I could see some fishermen winching in a small fishing boat onto a trailer. I whistled the dogs back. Unfortunately, within minutes they all started to display signs of poisoning. Within the 10 minutes it took to fetch the car the smallest, a Miniature Pincher had died, the second, a large Lab was in a coma and the third was going through terrible convulsions.
By the time we arrived at the vet’s in Avdimou five minutes later, all three dogs were dead. The fourth had eaten enough grass to vomit the small amount of poison she had ingested and survived.
Police were called, and an autopsy was done on the Pincher. The vet found only ‘a small handful of fish food which smelt strongly of insecticide’. The dog also had massive internal bleeding. Everyone agreed there was evidence the dogs had ingested a very strong poison, stronger than banned Lannate.
Why was poisoned fish food on a beach that is used by families, and what were fishermen using it for?
Locals and the vet believe some use the poison fish food to kill fish, scoop them from the surface, and use them ‘for personal consumption’ as suggested by the police – or they’re sold for public consumption. While it’s known that this happens, no one will admit to knowing anyone who uses this method.
Since that fateful Sunday we discovered that in the last three months six more dogs and three cats have died a similar death in the area. But because they were not reported and no autopsies were done, police are treating this as an isolated incident.
Evidence suggests that the fish food was either deliberately thrown to dogs by the fishermen or carelessly left on the beach where a child could have have picked it up. The Avdimou vet has urged the police to take action and notify relevant government bodies . Police do not believe there is a risk to public health, nor do they have the resources or the finance to pursue such cases. So unless my friend and I find the fishermen WITH the poisoned fish food, no further action will be taken.
Although we are mourning our dogs we are more concerned that a child could have picked up the poison or seen their own dog going through a terrible death. Are the police really waiting for the death of a child or someone else who has eaten contaminated fish before they act?
I for one won’t be eating local fish unless I know and trust who has caught it.
Letter taken from the Cyprus-Mail.com online newspaper
See also my blog post and related comments on safe dog beaches in Cyprus