article was written by me in July, 2004, prior to the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece.
(and cats, birds etc) are regularly poisoned, not only in Athens but all over Greece, including the islands. This is NOT rumor …. it is fact and photos of poisoned animals on this site as well as
at www.greekanimalrescue.com (and other websites)
are proof of this. And, as horrible as it sounds, poisoning is also an annual
pre and post tourist season event - 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 fate; 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!
(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?
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.
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?"
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 from the homepage on this site.
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. But they receive minimal, if any assistance from authorities
whose responsibility it is to enforce the laws which are supposed to protect the animals.
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.
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.
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.