The sun, the sea, olive trees, Greek wine, memorials and treasures of an one of the oldest cultures in the world, hospitable people that are fond of children – a lovely holiday!
This is what most of the people have on their mind when they think of Greece and it’s islands.
Unfortunately the reality is often very different to that image, and means endless pain for hundreds of thousands of dogs, year in, year out.
Greece and it´s animal protection law
Greece has quite an acceptable animal protection law (3170/2003).
According to § 2, the following standards have to be followed by dog owners:
a) The dog owner has to register the dog 8 weeks after its birth
b) The dog owner is responsible fort he well-being of his dog and to present him to a veterinary at least once a year
c) The dog owner has to carry a health certificate
d) The dog owner is not allowed to abandon his dog
e) The owners of female dogs are obligated not to facilitate their reproduction and to make sure the female dog is castrated, unless they intend to keep the puppies, or are able to give them to new owners.
§ 7 controls the handling of abandoned dogs In § 7 is described, how abandoned dogs have to be collected under the advice of a veterinary, in order to take them to shelters, where they are checked and if necessary treated by a veterinary.
Subsequently they should be released to their natural environment. During this process maltreatment of the dogs is strictly forbidden! So far on the theory – what about the reality?
Keeping of animals and animal owners
In Greece it is quite popular to have a dog or a cat as a pet. A serious problem is the excessive supply of animals. Out of greed of gain especially dogs are bred. There is a high demand for so called “pedigreed” animals.
There are some animal owners that truly love and embrace their animal.
But all too often dogs end up leading a miserable existence as bandog.
Dogs in shelter have a completely different significance from what we are used to: they are considered nothing more than a “production animal”, a pest that is dirty and transmits illnesses.
They are treated accordingly.
They either are held in tight, dirty cages , on roof terraces or in dark sheds, or they vegetate as “watchdogs
There are countless dogs in Greek, that live as bandogs, chained to barrels (“barrel dogs”) and trees, on rocks, fields and olive bosks, on far too short leads, without adequate space to lay down, exposed to the sun in summer and to the cold in winter, without sufficient food and water.
If one of those dogs dies, it is simply “disposed” and replaced by another dog. It therefore is controversial, if these dogs should be looked after or removed by animal rights activists.
Even the basic supply lacks for those pitiful animals. Sometimes they can’t even lay down, because the chain tied to the tree is too short.
The food is everything else but adequate: haggard bodies testify grave malnourishment of countless animals! We found for example mouldy orange and lemon shells in their bowls. Water buckets are often knocked over by the nervous dogs – and have to suffer from thirst until someone might come around.
We’ve seen and treated a lot of dogs with ingrown collars, with countless wounds and injuries, inflicted by sadists.
Bruno for example, who was torn on a rope behind a motor bike of a young lad and was severely injured.
Or Santo, a small and helpless puppy, who was brutally kicked by adolescents, so hard he suffered fractures on his cranium, rips and legs. It’s a miracle he survived.
Stray dog and their sad struggle for survival
Another huge problem are the countless stray cats and dogs.
The number of stray dogs is evaluated 300.000.
As long as tourists feed the stray animals on the beach and the hotel terraces , the Greek hosts put a good face on the matter and tolerate the animals near the tourist accommodations.
As soon as off peak starts (on Crete for example at the end of October until April), the animals are mercilessly hunted and killed.
"Tötungsstationen" don’t exist in Greece, unlike a lot of others countries, but that doesn’t mean the animals better off:
We have witness, that animals are carried to the see in large numbers and thrown over board.
There are countless poisoning actions, dogs and cats are shot, mutilated in traps and suchlike more.
Who drives in a car across the country side, finds dogs dead or struck by cars – left alone to their misery without attention or help.
Even dogs with dozens of pellets in their body aren’t a curiosity: on their search of food, they approach villages and are hunt down.
Sadists and animal torturers
The reports and documentations of the cruelest animal tortures, done by sadists in Greece every day, are just shocking.
Every day, we find dead bodies, which have signs of the most brutal barbarity and died under agony. All this is done by humans.
- Trumped eyes; starved, suffocated, strangled, shot or poisoned animals,
- Hanged dogs, which had such an long agonal state to fight (like recently happened in Crete),
- Cut extremities, - Bodies soused with acid,
- Fragmented animals,
- Dead bodies with fractures and the worst injuries you can imagine,
- Dogs, thrown in burrow for disposal where they starve and die of thirst – often together with their puppies.
- Furthermore, there are animals collected, which are nearly starved or which have obvious and huge abscesses, are abandoned; or with a lot of puppies, thrown in the dump in a package and often finally land in the dump crushing – still alive.
The sad list is endless!
Reproductive instinct and uncontrolled reproduction
The problem continues with the uncontrolled reproduction, both of the strays and the pets, because no one meets the lawful requirements and castrates the female dogs. Furthermore a huge number of dogs are abandoned. The reproductive instinct of the animals constrains the dogs to hand their own agony to further generations.
Natives think that castration is against the natures will, but it would be the only effective solution. But on the other hand, the disposal of a litter of unwanted dogs on the dump is in the eyes of a lot people very fine. Even native veterinaries are against castrations.
This way the agony runs in circles: For example, one single uncastrated female dog causes (according to traditional appraisal) more than 1000 animals within 5 years. Some appraisals say that it can cause 2700 animals!
Foreign veterinaries, who want to help with castrations, don’t receive an employment permits in Greece, because there references are not accepted. Their efforts to help are hindered by the Greek government in so many ways.
Consequences and criminal proceedings
The criminal proceedings of abuse to animals are another sad topic in this country, as you can see, when you read the following example of Crete (2009):
In Sitia, 5 dogs were hung on an olive field and were agonized until death in a very cruel way. The police pressed charges against the unknown contraveners, but there are no witnesses. Even in this case there were a lot of unusual reactions in the Greek media about it.
But consequences? None!
Animal tortures were just barely or at least not prosecuted criminally and offenses against animal rights are not avenged. The existing Protection of Animals Act is finally not practically implemented.
The guidelines of the Greek ministry of agriculture and its extensive obstruction against animal protection
In a circular letter from 24.06.2008, which reached a large scale of authorities, like Greek veterinary chambers, customs authorities, airports, border points and so on, the agricultural minister Konstantinos Kilitidis decreed guidelines which were a massive obstruction for the Greek and foreign animal rights activists.
Summing it up, it says:
a) Every Greek person is only allowed to keep two animals.
b) A traveler is only allowed to travel max. 2 pets, when the journey sense of the journey is no change of the owner or endowment of the animal.
c) The transport of animals, which are accompanied by the owner and which’s amount exceeds 5 animals, has to be carried out as trading transport.
The rehoming – often the only opportunity, to decrease the local suffering – is obstructed massively. Also the occupying of emergency cases – strays, injured or abandoned animals, can become a huge problem in Greece. Especially for those, who accommodate more than two dogs on their property.
The propaganda against foreign animals rights activists even announces that dogs from Greece, which were admitted to adoption programs, would actually land in laboratories in Germany.
Greece and a modern Europe
Since 1981, Greece is member of the EU. However, Protection of Animals Acts is disdained expansively – even the signed agreement about protection of pets from 13.11.1987 is consequently ignored.
There is no control for the adherence of the existing Protection of Animals Act. There is also no control according to the keeping of animals. Violation of the rights of animals is not punished.
We can state several reasons for this: For example, there is a deficit of large-scaled announcement of existing Protection of Animals Act. The same problem exists with the clarified responsibilities or assignment of the executive with its enforcement. But also the existing legal base offers a lot of loop holes and is barely concrete and rigorous.
However, the main reason the predominant opinion of Greek people and it seems not to fit to a modern Europe:
A lot of people lacks in their awareness for animals as creatures, which can suffer. They cross themselves in the church and a few minutes later, they torture a stray until it dies. And they don’t mention their own bigotry of their behavior. Even children mistreat animals, under the glad faces for their parents.
So until this basic opinion according to animals did not change, the so called paradigm change is implemented, a lot of generations have to come along…
Animal rights activists and their endless fight
The dedication of a lot, mostly foreign animal rights activists, is usually effected in the dark and often reaches illegality, because of lacking acceptance by the population, of political responsables and opinion formers.
There is barely acceptance from political responsables, media representatives, teachers, church represantatives and multiplicators of all kind. This is a very frustrating fact.
Students, who campaign for animals or are even just friendly to them, are excluded. And also clarify pet owners to a better animal keeping is very hard. It is even viewless to find helpers amongst the natives.
What has to be changed in Greece?
- Practical implementation of the already existing Greek Protection of Animals Act as well as punishment of violation.
- Prohibition of keeping of animals in chains.
- Especially enforcement state-aided castration programs instead of again and again enforced poisoning activities: experts agree that the only solution to reduce the population of the animals and to rise the quality of life of the remaining ones, can only be reached by castrations.
- Establishment of the topic animal protection in the schedule of schools, to reach the highest amount of growing ones and to change the opinion of the future generations that they mention that animals are sentient creatures.
- Issue of employment permits for foreign veterinaries.
Our appeal for you
Our local animal rights activists dedicate themselves usually with their own moderate means. It lacks of nearly everything, which is necessary for an appropriate basic supply for the countless animals in need.
Without donations and support, the animal rights activists cannot do their work – helping needy animals.
Our appeal for you – concrete:
- Please help with donations or donations in kind for the animals in need there, for example the Tierschutzverein Südkreta e. V. (animal rights organization South Crete) www.tsv-suedkreta.de
- Please sign the petition “Greece, protect your animals or lose your tourists” www.thepetitionsite.com/tell-a-friend/4371408. Target of the petition is to execute pressure to the authorities until cruel animal abuse, which belong to the daily routine at the moment, are finally stopped.
- On your journey to Greece: Show you host your protest against mistreatment of animals and against violation against animal rights, for example against the keeping in chains.
- Become flight sponsor, to offer a better future life to an animal or to transport relief items crisis regions.
Report: MD Julia Weber