Stephanie Henkel, Global Animal

Greece, a nation rich with culture and tradition, has been faced with many issues over the past few years including a sovereign debt crisis, an economy on the decline, and an exceptionally high unemployment rate. One of its lesser known battles is the country’s struggle with legions of stray cats and dogs roaming the streets. These conditions are due to barbaric attitudes toward animals and the lack of legislation on their behalf.

Dog in Greece. Photo Credit: Aegina Greece
A dog enjoys the sights in Greece. Photo Credit: Aegina Greece

In Greece, pets are allowed to wander at will, and spaying and neutering are not required. This leads to frequent litters of unwanted puppies and kittens with residents taking matters into their own hands. Abandonment, brutalization, and poisoning are all common practices on this peninsula. It is widely believed, yet refuted by Greek authorities, that thousands of stray cats and dogs were poisoned before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Insecticides, strychnine, and warfarin—all used for pest and rodent control—are the most commonly used cat and dog poisons. They are mixed with strong flavored foods, like canned pet foods, sausages, and raw meats, to disguise the taste. When ingested, these poisons cause inconceivable amounts of pain to the animal and are fatal if not treated in a timely manner.

In 2011, Greece put into effect new legislation with tougher restrictions on animal abuse while banning animal use in circuses. While this is a step in the right direction, it is just the beginning. To successfully decrease the stray cat and dog population, the citizens of Greece must take action.

Having neighborhood strays spayed and neutered is paramount, so new victims will not be subjected to the same cruel conditions. Pet guardians should also consider these procedures for their pets, because many abandoned animals do come from homes. There are many organizations in Greece that offer these services, including Mondo Cane.

Mondo Cane is a fairly new organization that is committed to rescuing animals and reducing the number of strays in Greece. They offer many services, including finding permanent local and international homes for animals and educating the community about compassion toward animals. They also offer a sanctuary for abused and abandoned pets and a spay and neuter clinic.

Greek Animal Rescue and Friends of the Strays of Greece offer similar services and are also avid animal protectors.

With these wonderful organizations and local help and support, attitudes about animals can be changed and the stray population diminished.