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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. This is NOT a
rumor .
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
are!

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
consequences.

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
www.garcanada.bizland.com'.

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
............. 29.Aug.2004 09:36

anonymous

you know I was gonna say something about how you hack the nation of Greece as it was the civilians fault aswell that the animals died I'm not saying they deserved it to be poisoned and killed that is awful but from the sound of it you blame us the greeks civilians as well it's like we said : hey you go poiso n the dogs I don't want them to disturb me