A holiday in Greece?

Millions of people from around the world are seduced by the beautiful pictures in Greek holiday brochures, but for animal lovers, a holiday to Greece can turn into a nightmare.

The shocking abuse of animals that happens every day in Greece is in stark contrast to the image the government wishes to project to its tourists. Innocent animals are poisoned, abused, shot and left to starve on the streets with no hope in sight.

Such depressing sights are certainly not the sort of holiday memories many tourists thought they would go home with.

Visitors to Greece will almost certainly witness stray dogs and cats and animals living in unacceptable conditions. Neglect and abandonment are common and different cultural attitudes mean that animals live outside, often on chains or tethers with no access to shelter. The lucky ones have food and water but otherwise their existence is miserable.

Poisoning of stray and owned dogs and cats is widespread throughout Greece and occurs on a daily basis. Those responsible for spreading around poisoned bait are rarely caught in the act and usually garbage collectors pick up the bodies of their victims in the early hours of the morning.

The poisoning is seen as a necessary and cheap way of controlling the large numbers of stray dogs and cats, which are seen as a a problem. Some people fear the strays would 'spread disease'; others consider them a nuisance, especially when their numbers increase. 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.

Sterilisation is not common for household companion animals, as 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 or dumped in the rubbish.

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 strays, so dependent on the tourists for food during the summer, are left to fend for themselves, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Poisoned bait may be their last morsel, if they are not shot, hit by a car, or hanged first.

Donkeys, which are ued as 'taxis' for tourists in popular holiday resorts, are badly beaten by owners who have little regard for life. Many animals are lame with deformed hooves after years of carrying heavy loads. They suffer from severe arthritis and debilitating skin conditions because they are made to work relentlessly in blistering heat with little or no water and or shade.

There are laws protecting animals in Greece but they are rarely, if ever enforced. However, a recent directive from the Greek Government instructs the police to respond immediately to all complaints of animal abuse and to enforce the law where abuse or cruelty is proven. You can read the directive HERE

Animal suffering knows no boundaries, language or creed, but ...
'all the darkness in the world can't put out the light of one small candle'


Updated: 19th August 2010


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