In 2004 the Summer Olympics will return to their origin in Greece where the Olympic tradition began over 2000 years ago|
In 2004 the Summer Olympics will return to their origin in Greece where the Olympic tradition began over 2000 years ago. But another Olympics is going on in Greece right now. Every day in cities, town and villages all over Greece stray dogs and cats compete in a contest to see if they can survive another day. (If you have ever holidayed in Greece you have, no doubt, seen the stray dogs and cats begging for food.) Unlike the Olympics that we see on television, this contest is stacked against the strays. Stray animals are tricked everyday into eating bait laced with strychnine, rat poison, herbicides, and pesticides or crushed glass. Then in the early morning garbage trucks come around and pick up the dead or dying animals.
How did the nation that brought us Socrates and Plato, democracy and the Olympics sink to this barbaric level of animal treatment? How does a nation that subscribes to the European Union (EU) code of human and animal rights get away with this brutish treatment of animals? It's all a matter of money and politics. While Western Europeans realized some time ago that spaying and neutering (sterilizing) animals was the most humane method of preventing animal suffering, most Greeks still subscribe to the theory that it is better to let the animals "have their fun". Sure the Greek Government passed the laws required of them as members of the EU. But in a snub to the EU, the government took no action to enforce the laws. There has not been and is not today even the pretense that the laws would be enforced.
Of course this means that every day over a thousand unwanted dogs and cats are born on the streets and in the homes of Greece. It is at this point that the practice of allowing household pets and strays to remain unaltered becomes cruel. Greeks are all for allowing the animals to "have their fun" but when it comes to dealing with the results of that "fun" most Greeks wash their hands of the matter. Consequently many of these unwanted pets are simply thrown out of the household in which they were born to fend for themselves. Some Greeks resort to more vicious means to rid themselves of unwanted pets such as hanging dogs from trees. Of course, the stray animals released from their homes un-spayed and un-neutered begin the process all over again.
To fix this problem the Greeks have decided (unlike Western Europe) not to attack the problem at its source (which would involve spaying and neutering) but at its result (the cruelest way of handling the problem). In preparation for the tourists who flock to Greece each year and for the Olympic fans who will descend on Greece in a couple years Greeks have devised a number of hideously cruel methods of killing and controlling stray dogs and cats. Poisoning, torturing, starvation are all used (see articles on these practices at the end of this column). In an attempt to put a fa?ade on the hideous practices of the Greek population, the Greek Minister of Agriculture has decided to finance the construction of shelters. However these shelters will be nothing more than "Death Camps". In its cruel way the Government has allocated money to fund the construction of the shelter/camps, but not for the animals' food or medical expenses. These so-called shelters will keep the animal confined for a maximum of 20 days. After that they will be killed.
If you are an animal lover the Olympics gives us an opportunity to do something about this problem that we won't have again for a long time. The eyes of the world will be on Greece as the country prepares for the Olympic Games. Greece will be trying to shield from those eyes how it treats its stray animals. But if we work together we can force the Greek government to change its ways and put in place, before the Olympics, the structure and educational programs necessary to give the stray animals in Greece a chance at decent life.
Here are some things you can do to help the effort of saving theses beautiful creatures.
1)Boycott both Greece and the 2004 Olympics as a travel destination and inform Greek officials of your plans. Tourism is Greece's number one industry and officials pay attention to complaints. Write about your concerns to the following: The Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis at email@example.com .
The Greek Minister of Tourism, Mr.Dimitrios at firstname.lastname@example.org
2)Sign the petition and ask your friends to sign the petition http://www.petitiononline.com/OG2004/petition.html
3)Write to the International Olympic Committee at
The International Olympic Committee
Chateau de Vidy
Telephone (00) 4121 621 6111
Fax (00) 4121 621 6216
For further knowledge on the subject of animal abuse in Greece, please read the following articles. When Greek officials say their abysmal treatment of animals is just a rumor, ask them about these articles:
Some organizations involved with the plight of Greek stray animals can be found on these sites:
http://worldanimalnet.org - Look under Greecehttp://www.paw-europe.com/grgroups.htm