Poisoning of stray and owned, dogs and cats is widespread throughout Greece and it occurs on a daily basis. Those responsible for spreading around poisoned bait are rarely caught in the act and usually the bodies of their victims are picked up by garbage collectors in the early hours of the morning. The poisoning is often excused as a necessary and cheap clearing up operation of the large numbers of stray dogs and cats which are seen as a problem. Some people fear the strays would “spread disease”, others consider them a nuisance, especially when their numbers increase.
WAG investigations over the past years, clearly point to a well planned, systematic house cleaning campaign. Allegedly orchestrated by Greek officials in cooperation with the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee, “gentrification” of the streets in time for the onslaught of tourists to the summer games has resulted in a massacre. Several Greek TV viewers state that a late night news report indicates that allegedly homeless gypsies and other undesirables will be spirited off to mysterious venues for the duration of the games.
WAG physically rescued several very ill, abused young dogs from the garbage dump at Loutraki, a wealthy seaside resort some 80 kilometers from Athens. Loutrakis claim to fame is a popular gambling casino. Infamous is the town dump which doubles as Loutrakis municipal animal shelter.
It is despicable as are the indifferent officials of the town, (partners in the casino). Words cannot describe the condition of the animals. At the moment WAG found, the words cannot describe the misery, pain and desolation that was witnessed. A happy ending for these rescued creatures, WAG has provided veterinary treatment for the rescued dogs and foster care with loving families. They were medicated, loved, spoiled, fattened up and re-homed. But, what about the tens of thousand left behind?
During her days stay in Greece, Marijo had daily meetings with animal rights activists and phone conferences with wonderful people nation wide; the only members of Greek society who seem to care about her tormented animals. Sadly these human bastions of animal rights continue to be ridiculed, slandered, intimidated and marginalized by citizens and government officials alike, and some of their actions appear to be governed by fear. The Greek e-zine, Tetrapodologein has made a vicious mockery of their compassion.
Low cost spay/neuter programs do not exist. Sterilisation is not common for household companion animals, because it is regarded as a negative intervention in the animals’ nature, but their owners refuse to take responsibility for the unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, which are usually abandoned. Many people seem to view poisoning as a ‘fact of life’. The poison used can be anything from strychnine and rat poison to farm pesticides and herbicides; even crushed glass.
The average life-span of a stray dog in Greece is less than two years, as most of them perish during the winter months, if not shortly after the holiday season comes to an end. The last charter flights depart from the islands at the end of October, by which time most of the hotels and tavernas have closed down for the winter.
The strays, so dependent on the tourists for food during the summer, are left to fend for themselves, not knowing where their next meal would be coming from … poisoned bait may be their last morsel, if they are not shot, or hit by a car, or hanged first.
Millions of tourists from all over the world visit Greece every year and many are shocked by the sights of animals in distress. They often be friend and feed the strays, who are generally very friendly and loving … they just want to ‘belong’ and they try very hard to find somebody to adopt them … the lucky few succeed.
Even rampant poisoning is not recognised as an official problem. There are hardly any reports made to the police. And despite their anger and sorrow, the somewhat cynical and lax response from the owners of animals poisoned to death shows that they do not trust the judicial system; some even fear it. So it appears that poisoning will long remain acceptable within the Greek culture, as long as the authorities themselves show total indifference to the problem.
Greece has adequate animal protection laws, but in general, they are not enforced. Article 2 of Greek law 1197 states:”Whoever kills, harasses, or ill-treats animals covered by the present legislation, or abandons them, is punishable by article 8 of the present penal code.”
Greeks proudly state that they do not practice euthanasia yet ironically mass poisoning is their barbaric form of animal population control. Death sneaks upon the animals furtively and is slow and brutally agonizing.
WAG New York, a political lobby and advocacy force, based in Manhattan is launching an assault. After many, years of diplomatic and political negotiations with governments resistant to amending their Neanderthal ideology and their disagreeable procedures for dealing with injustice, WAG has been left with no other alternative but to finally expose, in explicit detail, their offensive conduct and showcase their collective failure to move on to mainstream civilization.
Thanks to Marijo Anne Gillis – WAG – Welfare for Animals Global – Greece http://www.wagny.org/