Athens clearly has a problem with… dogs! When we arrived we noticed that there are a lot of stray dogs, almost everywhere. At every square, in every park and even in the archaeological sites! We even had our own dog guide at the Acropolis, who guided us from the South slope to the Parthenon itself! All the dogs are clearly stray dogs – they looked unkempt, rugged and often the older dogs had minor wounds and bruises. But most of all, they looked extremely friendly. Some of the dogs wore collars with tags on them, so I guessed that the municipality probably micro chipped and vaccinated them. And I was right! After some reading when returning home, I came across some very interesting information.
|Dog on the steps of the Acropolis|
|Napping in the warm sun at the Plaka|
There used to be dog catchers who will, of course, catch the dogs and take them to a pound or dog shelter. The dogs will then be kept there for a certain period of time before, sadly, being put down. But one day an animal activist group got hold of evidence of some vile conditions of one particular animal shelter and it caused heavy commotion. Not only did the mayor of the city receive a heavy fine and even a prison sentence for animal cruelty (or something along those lines), but every single pound basically shut down because of the fear of falling under the same heavy sentencing if one single thing is wrong in their poorly funded shelters. And hence, all of a sudden there was no control over the dogs and the population just grew! You can see friendly dogs lounging between the locals around the Plaka. The locals feed and take care of most of them. You often see fat dogs lying on old rugs, blankets or cardboard boxes. Some dogs are loners, others sit in packs. And it is rather interesting to see that most of the dogs are mixed breeds living together as if they are all the same. Some dogs get adopted, some don’t.
Until fairly recently the Greeks didn’t keep dogs and cats as pets. Hence, when they realized that a big dog does not necessarily belong in a tiny apartment, they will drive the dogs far away from their home and “set them free”. So a lot of dogs end up on the street because of negligent owners – which disgusts me. The same goes for cats. The Greeks used to keep cats to catch rats, mice and snakes. (Little did they know the terrible impact it will have on the environment). In Mykonos you can see cats almost on every street and on every corner, lounging in the sun or playing on the beach. It was really cute to see one kitty walking up to the waves and as soon as the water came to his feet he jumped up and ran away to his friend.
|Two friends lounging on the beach|
|What is this?|
What is tragic, however, is that often there are series of dogs and cats getting poisoned. Some evil residents put out poisoned meats on the side of the streets to "deal" with the problem in an inhumane way. This is absolutely horrific and shouldn’t even happen in the first place. I really don’t understand why there isn’t a more serious attempt to keep the dogs and cats off of the streets. During the 2004 Olympics, the dogs miraculously disappeared from the streets, only to return well fed and groomed the day after the closing ceremony. Word spread that they were kept on various farms until the end of the ceremony. They were on a mini holiday. Why didn't they just keep them there?Dogs (and cats) need companions, especially humans who have the responsibility toward them and all other animals, to keep them safe and healthy. Humans were responsible for letting them roam the city in the first place, so shouldn’t they be responsible for keeping them off the streets?
Armand and I started talking about what we would do if we had a few billion Euros to spare. I said I would buy a few farms and put all the dogs and cats there, neuter them and give them the proper attention they deserve. I think all countries should do this. I don’t think animals should be put into tiny shelters and then be put down, but they should rather be kept alive until they all gradually die of old age. And if you control them in this way, the various cities across the world will sit with less stray animals and less problems. I also think that all countries should implement a strict license system where you need to go through strict protocols in order to get a new pet from licensed breeders only. But that’s just a dream… perhaps one day I will be able to get this type of law passed. And when I have a few billion just lying around, I will definitely open a few Animal Farms!
A cute thing we saw was a young man on his Vespa, driving on a quiet street with a tiny miniature Doberman Pincher running alongside it. When he called “Antonio”, the dog came to him, he placed him in his leather jacket and they drove off into the traffic, Antonio peeping out with the wind in his face. Now that sounds like a nice life for a dog! Hopefully Antonio is one of the lucky ones, who will live a life full of human love and all his needs will be provided for, and he won’t end up on the streets.
What’s your opinion of stray animals? Do you think they should all be kept safe or do you think it is acceptable for them to roam around in a city?