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News :: Animal Rights

The Plight of Strays in Greece

Dogs (and cats, birds etc) are regularly poisoned, not only in Athens but all over Greece, including the islands.
Dogs (and cats, birds etc) are regularly poisoned, not only in Athens but all over Greece, including the islands. This is NOT a
rumor . it is fact and photos of poisoned animals on the GARCANADA and other websites are proof of this. And, as horrible as it
sounds, poisoning is also an annual event pre tourist season - and this is especially so this year pre Olympic Games. For example, a
Canadian working in Athens rescued two stray dogs and went through this horrific experience in recent months - one of the dogs she
rescued was poisoned at the Olympic rowing venue. Even owned animals are not immune to this; many dog owners carry a poison
antidote with them while walking their dogs so it can be administered immediately. There have been many recently `reported' poisonings:- Xanthi - 25 animals; Orestiada - 50 animals;
Alexandroupoli - 50 animals; Kallithea - almost all; Panormou Street - METRO - all pigeons and cats; Polygyros, Chalkidiki - yet
unknown number; and in Korfos, Korinth all the animals have disappeared. One can only imagine how many `unreported' cases there

If they (the Ministry of Agriculture) are not aware of it, they must be deaf! For the last 2 years, many of us involved in helping these
animals have been pounding on their doors, asking for co-operation and financial assistance, with little, if any, positive results. Of course they vigorously deny any such activity is taking place, as
would anyone being accused. If they are not involved, why are they not enforcing the laws that protect the animals against such a cruel
and inhumane fate?

They are fully aware of the situation but at the same time they are not doing anything positive about it; that is, enforce laws that up
to now, are only on paper, NEVER enforced. To at least punish those who are not responsible pet owners and those who deliberately harm
the animals (poisoning, tossing newborns stuffed inside garbage bags into garbage bins, hangings etc). People who come forward to report
incidences of poisoning (for example, their own dog being found dead in their yard because the neighbour doesn't like dogs or he was
annoyed by its barking) and neglect (dogs living their entire lives at the end of a short chain with no water and no protection from the
heat) are either totally ignored, laughed at and told they have to deal with it themselves, or threatened to back off or suffer the

With permission to quote Anna Pouliou, a Lawyer and Member of the Thessaloniki Bar (Greece) and the Brussels Counsels' Institute (Belgium), this is how she sees the situation for the stray animals in Greece. Ms. Poulio finds it so difficult, as a Greek, to admit
that in no other European Union country (before its enlargement) has she met such a lack of sensitivity and ignorance as she encounters
within her own country. In no other town in Europe has she met so much silent pain of animals as that which she encounters daily in
Greece. She comments that, "The Olympic Games, instead of symbolizing the reconciliation of states and culture as in ancient times, it has been reduced to a preparation for a bean feast, a mockery of the international community and an unfair and totally baseless and racist attack against foreign animal lovers."

"The scene of tortured and starving animals will obviously destroy the Olympic celebration and we search for ways to make them disappear (in essence with poison and smashed glass!"

"The relevant law of 2003 was passed in order to throw dust in the eyes of the international community. It is not implemented but
neither, it seems, is it going to ever be implemented. Are we ready then for the celebration! How awful my modern Greece has become! No mercy for a life which is struggling on the roads of our country,
no concept of compassionate civiliation?"

She is ashamed of the level her compatriots have reached and urges the Government to wake up and do something. She urges the Greek teachers to sensitize the children towards animals in school; the Greek priests to sensitize their flocks to the silent torture of God's innocent creatures; for her fellow country people to turn
around and look at the sad sight of the suffering strays. Adopt one and sterilize it for its own protection; and for the Greek State
(but with little hope) to finally wake up! You can read her "Open Letter to the People of Greece" in its entirety at'.

There are many organizations in Greece who struggle on a daily basis to do their best to help the animals Aesop's Friends of the
Animals Kavala; Argos Animal Welfare Society Thessaloniki; Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF) - Athens; KiDiZo Ioannina; Skiathos Dog
Shelter Skiathos; Society for the Protection of Stray Animals (SPAZ) Glyfada; The Ark Corfu, just to name a few.

The government, in particular the Ministry of Agriculture, is not doing anything 'but talk', to alleviate the stray situation during
the Olympic Games. In fact, they've actually made it more difficult to rehome rescued animals outside of Greece. In response to one
woman's outrageous and slanderous accusations that animals are being used for vivisection, cosmetics and the fur trade after leaving
Greece, they have imposed new 'rules' that serve no purpose other than to make it more difficult for animal rescue groups to rehome
the animals, thus preventing them from taking in anymore strays from the streets. We have strong suspicions that this is their means to
distract attention away from the poisonings that are going on as there is no way this woman could be creating so much fuss without someone higher up backing her allegations.

And, although the City of Athens launched various initatives, these could be described as `too little, too late'. Sterilizing a few
hundred strays in comparison to the thousands on the streets results in little benefit with so little time before the games. As mentioned previously, the ATHOC were adamant the dogs be removed from the streets during the games. They suggested they be rounded up and put `somewhere' until the games are over and then be released
back into their neighbourhoods. We are very suspicious about this plan as many dogs have already `disappeared' and no one knows where
they went. It is likely all the dogs will disappear and, in their minds, the `problem' of stray dogs on the street during the games
will have been dealt with effectively which we all know is definitely not so because the streets will only become populated with new dogs moving into these areas. The only solution to
controlling the stray population, anywhere in the world, is with spay/neuter programs combined with humane education in schools and
the enforcement of animal protection laws.

The deliberate acts of poisoning, cruelty and neglect towards animals in Greece HAVE TO STOP! This will only happen with the combined efforts of many The Ministry, the Municipalities, the
Prefectures, animal welfare organizations and the general public at large. Those of us already involved in this situation have used the
2004 Olympic Games to draw worldwide attention to the plight of strays all over Greece and, to some degree, some progress has been
made in that prior to 2 years ago, this issue was not a topic for discussion in or outside of Greece. In the past 2 years, there have
been several articles published, protests launched and meetings held to discuss the issues. It is also important that everyone deal with this problem with a pro-active attitude and works toward a common goal to make life better for animals in Greece.

Mrs. Dianne Aldan
Canadian Representative & Fundraiser
Greek Animal Rescue - Canada (GARCANADA)
614 - 25 The Esplanade
Toronto, ON M5E 1W5

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