Mr. Pastos welcome to ‘At Home With Pets’, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. You have taken an initiative to change society’s approach to animals through political activism and technological platforms. We know that ‘meson’- nepotism – is used to by-pass legalities in animal welfare, how do you think that moving to a e-government system will help in this issue?

In the day and age we live in, the word Meson should not be used. The reason people use meson is because the culture here has taught people to ask for it. This can not be beaten if we don’t change the system. Today people make a phone call and they get their job done, others even pay for meson!

What I suggest is that we need to upgrade our system to a digital one, a system where people have the same priority and where nobody can interfere. Many people do not believe this is possible, I do.

The reason I believe this is because I have seen in it in action. Estonia has moved to a full digital system where everything is done via centralised systems, online and instant! The corruption rate there is close to 0% ever since the switch. This concept will also make the system more productive. We will view it as a charm and not as a system where we hate to be a part of!

You have always been interested in animal welfare and a couple of weeks ago introduced your new PetSaver App. Tell us how the idea came about and how long it took you to develop.

The idea has been in my head for some time now. The issue was cost and time. Ever since I was asked to become a candidate for the elections, I put some money aside in order to start my campaign. Campaigns cost money, especially when you follow the traditional methods (each banner in the road cost 500 for 15 days)

I decided not to follow the norm, instead I invested my time and money into a platform that will come to stay, whatever the outcome of the elections. PetSaver came to life on May 1st and will grow to become a dedicated platform for pet lovers, people who want to help with adoptions and search for lost and found pets. People love it already!

How does PetSaver work and how do you feel it will help in animal welfare?

PetSaver has 4 modes:

  1. Lost and found, where people list animals in order to find its owner when lost
  2. Adoption, where people can list animals they have for adoption
  3. Foster, where people ask others to temporary take care of animals for any reason
  4. Report Abuse, where people can warn the rest of the users about harmful events like poisoning, negligence of care and so on.

How else have you been involved in animal welfare over the years?

I have actively been caring for animal welfare for years now, participating in small groups of people trying to rescue animals and also adopting many (especially cats where we can have many in the house) I have 7 now.

As a voice within the political system, whatever the outcome of the election, what do you plan to do in order to be a voice for Cyprus animals?

We need to make a strong law for protection of animals, policing of animal safety and increase the jail time and fines for every person who doesn’t treat animals in a humane way.

Also we need to focus on a better system for funding. The government now is cutting off welfare for humans, it’s their last priority at the moment. What we need is to have a strategic plan of action in order to focus on the real problems we are facing. Also our culture and education system is behind on animal welfare, many people simply do not care. Caring is the best tool for influence and especially when it comes to a sensitive issue like this.

What do you feel the government needs to change in order to protect animal welfare and implement laws reducing the number of abuse cases that unfortunately are on the increase?

Attitude! Everything starts with a vision. There is no real vision at the moment. Only when something horrific happens, then maybe someone might care, but this is not the solution, its actually part of the problem. As for the increase in abuse, that is because of the bad system we live in. It’s time to change it.

By law people are to register their pets with their local municipalities and pay a fee. With this money said municipalities are suppose to provide animal friendly, clean areas for citizens to enjoy outdoor time with their pets but very little has been done. In fact some municipalities even prevent people from walking their pets in parks. What message do you have for the municipalities to encourage them to be more pet friendly?

This is unacceptable. Not just parks, but beaches also! There are many people who want to have areas designated for dogs also. This is something we need to force on the local municipalities to produce. One way I use to put pressure on local municipalities is to name and shame those who are NOT ANIMAL FRIENDLY. This will make many people react, especially if people want to live in an area where animals are not welcome. It’s all about money at the end of the day, if their interests are affected, then things change.

Tell us a little about your pets?

I have 7 cats at the flat, 1 dog and 1 cat at my mother’s house. These are my permanent pets. Their names are Loulou (7), Luna (6), Zoubie(5), Chanel (3), Kirkos(4), Princess(7), Psipsi(1), Poupis(15) and Dutchess(16). As you know they have their own character and I treat each one individually as if they were people. Having 7 cats is like having 7 wives! They are so jealous of each other that they act upon my actions if I give too much attention to one than the other! Dutchess is 16 years old and is a Persian cat, I’ve had her since I was in the military. The rest are from 1 – 7 years old. Poupis belongs to my girlfriend’s mother who lives in the same building, he is a French Poodle and is 15 years old.

Why should people vote for Dinos Pastos in 2016 or upcoming elections?

I have a vision for an e-Cyprus, our laws are very complex and not efficient. We need to upgrade everything literally in order to have a functional and fair system. I have set a website with my targets for details but I will name a few.

  1. Digitize everything and introduce e-government procedures
  2. Modern work force and modern hiring. This is a concept were people can work from remote locations (for Cyprus or abroad). The rest of the world has evolved, we haven’t. This will help our economy by stopping the braindrain (people leaving Cyprus for a better future). We need to focus on this as a first priority, because without skilled Cypriots we are doomed.
  3. Fight corruption with technological means. (As explained above with question 1). Corruption is a human factor, so by minimizing human intervention we will solve the problem sooner than later.
  4. Education and culture. We need to improve the education system to include a better culture for the future, things are changing fast and we are still teaching in the old fashioned way. A new Digital culture has taken the world by surprise, everyone has devices connected to the internet. Let’s make use of this!
  5. Increase the Animal welfare programs by using technology. Attracting more people to the concept will help us all as a whole. (like PetSaver)

Is their anything you would like to add to encourage people to use PetSaver?

YES… people need to spread the word. It works better with more people on the platform (think of it like Facebook, it wouldn’t work if people didn’t register)

I want it to have a news section, add shelters, first aid for emergency cases and also include all local vets and details. It will only grow to be a better tool for everyone!

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing how you help the animals of Cyprus, they need support such as yours and we hope other candidates in the future follow your example.