Athens: It’s got lots of seaweed and quite a few rocks, but for canines and their masters in Cyprus a little bay outside Ayia Napa is a dream come true.
Designated this week as the island’s — and indeed the Mediterranean’s — first official dog beach, the off-leash paradise puts paid to a ban on dogs enjoying Cypriot seashores. “It’s a place primarily for dogs, not people, and we hope they have a nice time there,” Ayia Napa’s Mayor Antonis Tsokkos said.
The inauguration of the beach follows years of pressure from environmentalists and expatriates exasperated by the former British colony’s draconian anti-dog laws. Once in the bay canines will be able to bathe, frolic and indulge in other doggy behaviour, without recrimination.
Cyprus stands alone as Europe’s only state to formally outlaw pet dogs from beaches. “There is a lot of hostility towards dogs... on this island and it’s part of a mentality that goes back years,” said George Perdikis of Cyprus’ Green party. “Very often you’ll see fights erupt between people who take their little dogs to beaches and other residents who just can’t stand them being there. Animal rights are such that you will also see dogs being poisoned.”
Anti-dog fury peaked last month when a local killed a man and his dog by ramming his car into them after a row over the dog’s presence on a beach outside Paphos. The incident jolted Cyprus’ central committee of beaches into appointing the area as exclusive dog territory. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008
6 months ago