The Situation in Greece


33 2Indeed, in Greece a (really good) animal welfare act exists, however, the idea of animal welfare has neither set up in school education nor in the everyday life of the Greeks till this day – on the contrary, a stray dog is seen as filthy and as a carrier of illnesses, and this is mostly also taught to the children. Therefore, indifference towards the grief of the animals is normal in Greece and cruelty towards animal counts as a bagetelle...

Before the law, an animal is an object and must provide some service to earn its food.

If an animal becomes ill or, e.g., cannot be used for hunting any more, it is "disposed of", i.e. abandoned or killed in sometimes brutal ways.

The number of the stray dogs is estimated to be approximately 300,000, a number which rather is increasing, caused by the abandonment of non-castrated dogs again and again and the rather negative attitude of many Greek dog owners towards the subject of castration. The opinion of many dog owners, that a castration is against nature and the dogs should "have their fun too", prevails here. If one asks them about the many abandoned puppies in streets with much traffic or the puppies thrown away in waste containers, one often gets the answer that their destiny „lies in God's hand now“ and maybe one or the other abandoned dog is lucky enough to be adopted by someone, one "has given the dog the chance after all".


Animal Suffering in Greece

49In order to efficiently reduce the population of the stray, at least 70% of the stray animals (dogs and cats) would have to be castrated!
However, putting this through seems to be almost impossible, although castrating is not only legally demanded, but also the best protection of animals generally and tremendous grief could be prevented with it.

Therefore, private animal welfare activists do what is possible and work up to the limit of their mental, physical and financial exhaustion. However, without state subsidies (which do not exist) it is a constant running after support, and many dogs and cats found half starved and simply left wounded or injured in the traffic, and who are coddled up by animal welfare activists for several strenuous weeks and released into "freedom" again, are found poisoned or shot or overdriven a couple of weeks later.

In addition, the foreign veterinarians who offer to carry out the urgently necessary castrations do not receive any permission in Greece, and the necessity of castrations is denied on the part of the communities. A foreign veterinarian cannot be active in Greece noadays, because their certificate is not recognized and any activity with it would be always unlawful. Nowadaysy, the approval is given no more, because the ministerial decree setting the guideline was cancelled and no authority is responsible for corresponding requests. Thus, the possibility promised at first, that foreign veterinarians may cooperate with a Greek mayor if a contract comes about with approval of the respective district council, has become invalid.

56Likewise, the mediation of dogs abroad – the only possibility to save the life of the dogs nowadays – was clearly complicated by the decree of the acting Minister of Agriculture, if not made almost impossible.

Thereby, it is not allowed for individuals anymore to hold more than 2 dogs or 2 cats, which means a constant trembling, because our reception camp could be closed any time by the authorities, as about 20 dogs and 40 cats are living there.

The dilemma in Greece is in fact, that there is an absolutely satisfactory animal welfare act indeed, but that it is not enforced, however, that in reality "penalties" seeming almost ridiculous are imposed in cases of cruelty towards animals (if this is punished at all), that the work of Greek animal welfare activists is complicated by absurd law decrees, foreign veterinarians may not carry out castrations and that, therefore, virtually is no castrations take place – also because no money is spent for it. The enforcement of the rights of animals and the animal welfare activists is difficult in view of a massive propaganda against foreign animal welfare activists in Greece. Laws are passed that give the impression that experts use their precious time to build up hurdles and to leave the street animals to themselves - without logical reason.
The existing enforcement problems are probably not to find with the people themselves, whom one meets every day, but the ministries and the legislation of the veterinarian's chambers are responsible for this.

As a result one can say that at first, no objections concerning the law on the protection of animals or pets can be raised in Greece nowadays, but that nevertheless, the implementation of the law is contrary to the letter of the law.

By Claudia Stellatou
Animal Welfare Organisation Kefalonia Animal Trust (
In cooperation with:,,,, and


Greece and its Animal Welfare Act

Author: Ms Rodhe Tsioros, Attorney at Law

recht© Thorben Wengert / PIXELIOThere is still a big problem with the street animals in Greece. Because only few animals are castrated, the population grows steadily and the authorities which are responsible, actually, for the enforcement of the basically sufficient animal welfare act, do not shoulder their responsibilities. With application of the law there should be
- no poisoned animals in Greece
- no dogs kept in a barrel
- no puppies in waste containers
- no wounded or otherwise mutilated animals
- no lack of animal shelters
- no dogs on short chains, tethered next to frequented roads, some of whom have not even moved more than two meters for years and whose neckbands have grown into the neck.
However, all this belongs to the everyday life in Greece and only very seldom and if a culprit is caught, cruelty towards animals is sanctioned.
The animal welfare act has the following drawbacks:
- An animal is still treated as an object in Greece.
- A claim of a citizen on enforcement of the requirements is not furnished, because according to the law every community must have an animal shelter, but there are animal shelters only completely sporadically which are then run mostly by private organizations, often illegally.
- It rather concentrates upon measures for the animal holders (a maximum of two animals, hygiene regulations etc.), than on the protection of the animals themselves.
- It regulates, for instance, which authority is responsible for remove the dead, overdriven animals on the roads, however, does not require bringing a hit animal to a veterinarian.

In addition, society is still regarding animals to be useful objects and a partnership between animal and person is misjudged. The prosecuting authorities see complaints against violations of the animal welfare act as hysteria and often do not accept complaints.

The authorities refer to a lack of financing possibilities, although it is conceded that money of the European Community is distributed specially for the protection of stray animals, which does not arrive, however, in the responsible commuities or is used otherwise.

Many foreign animal welfare organizations are attacked and the work of these animal welfare activists is made almost impossible. Foreign veterinarians may not be active in Greece, the implementation of the corrsponding guideline has been cancelled, so that a veterinarian has no prove of his licence and is sometimes even denounced, because of possession of unauthorised drugs which fall under the anaesthetic law. Because the foreign help is rejected (primarily by the Greek veterinarian's chamber and the ministry of agriculture), the animals are seldom castrated and a solution to the problem is not foreseeable.

A start for the animals in Greece can only be made if an instrument is given to the more and more rethinking citizens, for instance, with a European animal welfare act, so that the already legally regulated protection of animals can be put through.

The children must already learn in the schools that dogs are no bacterial catapult and cats do not bring bad luck, that every living being has a feeling for pain, that every stray animal deserves a home and that castrations are the only sensible solutions for problems like in Greece. Because protection of animals must be a right for persons and animals alike in Europe, and not just the mere possibility to be able to save an animal.


Examples of the everyday animal misery in Greece

Von Claudia Stellatou;

He who devotes himself to the protection of animals in Greece, is inevitably confronted over and over again with the various variations of suffering. In the following chapters I have put together examples for you.

I was supported by the following organizations engaging in animal wlefare in Greece in the form of picture and text material:

You can receive further information from these addresses if you are interested.

The chain dogs of Greece

2You can see them everywhere in Greece: The dogs who must spend their whole life on a chain thats way too short, in dirty backyards full of garbage and waste, in waysides, garden properties, on company areas, etc.they can never jump and run, never play and go hunting with other dogs, cannot occupy themselves with anything, they can do only one thing: just lie there, and this day by day and mostly quite alone and without anyone to address to. Often in the blazing heat of the sun and in winter without protection from moisture and cold.


4Having to see a dog, who is such an active, sociable and person-related animal and searches our nearness, being condemned to such passiveness and isolation, is terrible.

Their owners sometimes provide an old and rusty metal barrel as a home to them, which is why these chained dogs are also called "barrel dogs".
If it is a hound, he may be lucky enough to be allowed to jump and run for a couple of weeks once a year – as that way it fulfils „its purpose“ -, then the remaining 10 months he is on the chain again. If he does not go hunting according to the images of his owner, he either remains on the chain only or he is "disposed of".
Photos by courtesy of the Noah's Ark Crete

Abandoned Pets


- disposed of in waste containers, left to die on desert islands, thrown into foxholes and kloofs, abandoned somewhere in solitude.

Although forbidden by the law, many pets which one has become weary of are abandoned; either because they have no more use, or because one wants to spend no money on necessary veterinary measures. Besides, often it also concerns puppies which are thrown into waste containers or are thrown into kloofs or deep foxholes from which there is no escape and where they – if they do not die already from the injuries caused by the fall – miserably starve and die of thirst.
CHANIOTIKA NEA“, Thursday, April 24, 2008

5Unbelievable, but true! A hole near the entrance of the gulch of the St. Irene has actually become a dog grave.

Strangers have thrown their animals into this hole. Members of the animal friendly association Chania „protection of animals“ searched the area with a mountaineer. The mountaineer descended 18 meters into the hole and discovered a scared hound whom he saved from death.

The members of the animal friendly association „protection of animals“ explain: „A few days ago we were informed via our association phone that a vertical hole exists at the site near the entrance of the gulch of St. Irene, from which the barking of a dog can be heard. This site is near the main road and about 80 meters away from the entrance to the gulch. Last Saturday, members of our association went to this area and found out that the accusation is true. There was indeed a hole of unknown depth, from which the barking of a dog could be heard, while there was unbearable stench all around and there were millions of flies as well as remains of sheep skin.

The fire brigade was informed, and a vehicle of the local branch in Kampanos came immediately. But unfortunately, it was impossible for the firefighters to do something for the desperate dogs, because they did not have the necessary equipement.

Inhabitants of the area informed us that the place is called „the dog grave“ among locals and that in former times, quite unscrupulous people have systematically thrown in their dogs alive there and, quite generally, animals without owners, who were thus condemned to die a slow and cruel death.

Provided that they had survived the fall, they were forced to eat each other in the struggle for survival. Inhabitants of the region also state that certain people make everything bad disappear in this hole, like ill and dying sheep and goats, which are dangerous for the public health.

We had arranged to meet Mr. Georgio Perrakis, member of the mountaineer's association Chania and cave explorer who came to assess the situation and then offered to try and approach the desperate animals.

6On Monday, April 21, our association indicated the fact in writing to Mr. mayor of East-Selinos, Mr. Papanderos, also to the veterinarian authority Chania in addition.
During the meeting which we had with Mr. Papanderos on the same day, he informed us that he knew of the existence of this hole and that he had an iron grid attached, so that nobody could fall in. Nevertheless, certain people had cut the iron with special tools, so that they could continue their work undisturbed. We informed him about the efforts we wanted to undertake to release the animals, and he promised to close the entrance again when we had finished our attempts.

In the afternoon of the same day, a group of volunteers with Mr. Perrakis went to the place where we found out that, indeed, older grids existed which had been cut through.

We had the impression that several people driving past stopped out of curiosity, and when they heard that we are members of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, they spontaneously asked whether anybody had thrown down dogs again, which means that the inhabitants of the area knew about this, but unfortunately nobody had said anything.

Finally, Mr. Perrakis descended into the hole at the risk of his own life, where he discovered a scared hunting bitch in a depth of about 18 meter, about 8 years old, as the veterinarian Mr. Bizyrakis told us. She had probably lost her ability to go hunting, and, therefore, her owner had decided that she was of no more use to him.

7With an enormous effort, we succeed in bringing the animal to the surface, enormous because it was big and the entrance of the hole was very narrow.
Fortunately, it was in a relatively good state - slightly wounded at the hind legs, possibly from the fall. It is an especially friendly dog who licked our hands to show us his gratitude and created sympathy in all of us.

We did not have the impression that the animal had lost weight. As Mr. Perrakis informed us, nevertheless, gigantic amounts of dead animals, skulls of goats, rubbish and fur were in the hole, and the animal had lived on it. There is also standing water down there. Nevertheless, the stench is unbearable and there are countless colonies of insects. One asks oneself, how long the pitiable animal had to live in these surroundings. Nobody can tell us.

As an association, we were lately confronted incessantly with the human indifference and the cruelty of certain people towards animals. On many roads, we see chained animals, emaciated, exposed to the sun and the rain - close to some barrel here and there, and rubbish was thrown before them instead of food, which proves the lack of respect towards animals and the environment.

These animals are captured and defenseless, without any rights. Even if we stop and give them some water – a little something –, they lick our hands and wag their tails with gratitude.

The rescue of this animal – only one animal – of the hundreds who have really been sunk into this hole, was an unexpected present. We do not hope to be confronted with similar events in future, neither there nor in other regions of our prefecture.“

Text and photos: Animal Friendly Association Chania, „protection of animals“
Source: "CHANIOTIKA NEA", Thursday, April 24, 2008
Translation Greek-German: Regina Schmid [who had to interrupt her translation work several times from shock]

Left Behind on a Desert Island


8The cry for help of an English yachtsman who found abandoned dogs on an uninhabited island made the rounds in animal welfare circles these days, after his request for publication in the Athens News (English-speaking weekly paper in Greece) had faded away unheard.

„We were recently sailing in the Gulf of Corinth and found five forsaken dogs on an uninhabited small island group. They are on the island of Daskalio, were there is only an abandoned monastery. The animals were still in fairly good health, but they were lacking water. They had survived up to now apparently due to the fact that they ate sea gulls and their eggs, but there is no water on the island. We left 25 liters for them, and painted a message for other boats by a wall to please supply them likewise with water.

Unfortunately, we already have five dogs ourselves and could not take them, therefore, but it almost broke our hearts to have to leave them behind. We would be very grateful to you if you publish a report on their horrible fate, so that somebody can help them, before they die. On the neighboring island Zoodokos Pigi, there is a monastery as well, which is apparently just being rebuilt. We met the local priest and reported to him about the plight of these animals, but he did not seem to be particularly interested. “

14Both approximately 2-3 day old puppies were abandoned on a beach and had no chance to survive photo: Claudia Stellatou;

Young dog, abandoned on the tourist beach, probably hit by a car  photo: Claudia Stellatou;

16The owners of female dogs are obliged not to make the reproduction easier of the animals and to provide for their castration, provided that they do not intend to keep the puppies or these cannot be given to new owners. The non-compliance with this regulation is the main cause of the stray problem. On the one hand, castrating an animal is seen as an intervention against, on the other hand, it is also the financial costs that many pet owners want to avoid.


Abusing, Neglect and Killing Stray Dogs

19Although the Greek animal welfare act forbids killing and requires the dog owners to provide for the well-being of their animals and an at least annual veterinary examination, the animals are often tormented or killed; sanctions are virtually never imposed.

Photo: Georg Georgiou; Kefalonia Animal trust; Removing an ingrown neckband by surgery

The neckbands of the many abandoned dogs, but also those of many „home and chain dogs“ from the time when they were young or even puppies, are never removed. When the dogs grow up, the neckbands then grow into their necks, wich leads to permanent strangulation and dreadful pain.

This bitch (on top) was bound to a tree with a wire by children, the leg has slowly died off and is hanging on the stump only in small frazzles. Highly pregnant, immense pain - what did this dog have to endure...

The owner of a bitch in heat (on the left) felt bothered by this dog and reached for a knife because the dog was constantly waiting at the front door. Photo: Claudia Stellatou;

Stray wounded by a bullet (on top)
Shooting at dogs or cats is especially popular with hunters, for want of suitable prey - with the subject of Hunting being a chapter of its own in Greece.
Photo: Claudia Stellatou;


 The Hung Ones of Kos

24Not only the street animals become victims of cruel homicides and animal cruelty, but also hounds and sheepdogs which are not suitable either to the hunt, are ill or "have retired", suffer a similar destiny. With hunters and shepherds, hanging is a popular "disposal method" which is often also ment to be a punishment of the poor animal. The cruel finding on the island of Kos in March, 2008, confirms this.

The hung one of Kos are a shock to animal lovers

The discovery of nine hung dogs near a holiday place of Kos has caused a scream of Greek and international animal welfare groups, in order to suggest the future protection of strays to local authorities.
The dogs were found hung in a tree in a suburb by Kardamena on the 1st of March. Only a short time ago, two hounds have probably been hung there, the others were in different stages of decay. Eyewitnesses report that the dogs were obviously hung alive.
The pictures of the tree of terror went around the entire world, which caused the mayor of Irakleidon, Stergos Billis, to make an official statement on the 12th March in which he expressed his sadness and outrage about the incident.
„We profoundly condemn this horrific and barbarian act “, he says in the statement, „I would like to assure everybody that this does not show the animal-loving of our population“ (…) the incident was reported to the justice and the police to lock up and to punish the culprit“.
Vangelis Trakossas, one of the animal welfare activists of the island, says: „The police has tried to get statements, however, the population is remaining silent. Trakossas was asked by a farmer: „If a dog killed your chickens, wouldn't you also hang him up?“
The mayor has promised future help for the castration of strays to Trakossas. The authorities want to develop a catch – castrations – release program for homeless dogs, based on the Greek law 3170, Trakossas says that nothing with respect to that has happened on Kos.
The Greek protection of animals, stationed in Great Britain, has offeredt a reward of 2,000 euros for the inquiry of the culprit.
ATHENS NEWS, 14/03/2008

Poisoning Greek Stray Dogs

31Poisoning actions have a real tradition in some countries. Greek animal welfare activists report that the strays used to be brought on a boat and thrown over board far out in the open sea. Then the dogs then used to drown after swimming for several hours. This procedure was generally known in the public. Poisoning is common since the time that these chemicals can be bought everywhere. Regular poisoning actions are carried out in the towns, the originators or persons responsible, however, never become known.

In the metropolises, there is nobody who admits providing for poisoning, but at regular intervals, strays die from poison. There are suppositions based on the local and temporal circumstances of the poisoning, that the rubbish collection is instructed with laying out the bait, but these are only speculations which cannot be proved.

However, the systematic and exhaustive poisoning from district to district clearly makes the impression that there is a bigger organization and planned action of higher organs behind this. However, nobody of the official side will say that poisoning is organized.

Animal welfare activists report that there is mostly a certain number of people in the villages who poison regularly. These are private actions which have to do supposedly nothing with the mayor or a higher authority. In the villages, people speak quite openly about somebody laying out poison. It is also normal that people are threatening with poison if there are problems with dogs. Personal property is a higher value than the life of a stray who threatens just this. No alternatives are also seen to protect, e.g., the chickens perhaps by fences or stables against the dogs, like we do it in this country to prevent damages by foxes or martens. The people in the villages are often also financially in a very bad situationff. Poison is cheaper than a fence and it means less work.

35In tourist places, the situation is different again. Many vacationers from the cities are going there and often abandon their redundant dogs there. In winter, sweet puppies are purchased, which grow up by the summer vacation and become disturbing in the apartment in the city and make too many demands. Then the families go to their small holiday house in summer. When they set off again, the dog is left behind in the holiday place: there it is idyllic and nice and there the dog will be absolutely fine. This is almost seen as an act of freeing the dog: as an animal in freedom, it can live its natural life again.

Animal welfare activists know: If one gets somewhere and no strays are there where some were regularly seen before, then they have been poisoned shortly before.

Decades of tradition of the poisoning is the best proof of the fact that poison is no solution for the stray problem. Castration actions help to prevent at least the reproduction.

The biggest problem is, however, the people who buy cute (pedigree) puppies from private breeders or from imported from the Eastern bloc, e.g., in a pet shop and simply place these animals before the door when they grow up and become tiresomely or even ill. This is the real problem of the stray masses, which is therefore a homemade one.

The disinterest of many people towards the needs and the life-style of the non-human creature leads to romantic imagination of the "life in the wild“ and thus the conscience of those whoe dispose of theirr family dog on the street is whitewashed. The act of the abandonment is evaluated as "dismissed into freedom“ and the eyes are closed before the many wretched, starving strays. They have nothing to do with their own abandoned dog of course...

14th June, 2004, text: Stefan Grothus
This article including the photos is published and licensed under a creative Common License.

25In the evening of January 28, 2009, 5 dogs were poisoned on the main square of Ioannina. The next day, another 11 stray dogs were also poisoned in a park of Ioannina. Furthermore, it was reported by animal lovers who feed stray animals in Ioannina, that many had suddenly disappeared.

In the election campaign in 2004, the same picture in the main square of Ioannina came up two days before the visit of a prominent politician, where he should hold his speech. The same authority, the same mayor, the same easy solution - 13 poisoned dogs.

Source: Vesna Jones
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
End of December, 2008, poisoning action in Karditsa -
Photo and video:
Report and interview with approval of the Noah's Ark Crete

Animal Shelters and “Animal Hoarding”

1) Public Animal Shelters

One can see another violation of the animal welfare act in the few public animal shelters, most of which are in a catastrophic state. In addition, there is the aggravating fact that there is no chance to find new owners for the animals in Greece, pedigree animals from a breederare usually preferre. Lately, dogs with supposed family tree are also bought in the numerous "Petshops" or are imported from other Eastern European countries, legally or illegally.



Animal shelter of the community in Katerini in 2008 (source: Peter Kahr;



Animal shelter of the community in Polygyros, May, 2006 - photos

2) Animal Hoarding

Wrongly understood "animal-loving" can also lead to the fact that "animal welfare activists" hoard hundreds of dogs on private areas – mostly without castration and without veterinary care; many of these animals become ill and die.


"Animal shelter" of Samara in Micra/Thessaloniki - source:


Typical "puppy station", full of dirt/excrements – the severest infection illnesses are preprogrammed here(photo on the left)
For the most animal shelter inmates, it means „life imprisonment“


This dog has given themselve up

53 Photo: Peter Kahr

Thessaly in 2008: 300-400 uncastrated dogs, without veterinary care
According to section 6 of the animal welfare act, it is allowed to own 2 dogs or 2 cats or 1 dog and 1 cat...

54Photo: Peter KahrThis bitch lives in a foxhole with an animal collector in Thessaly, beside her dead puppy. On this area, some hundred dogs live without being castrated and without veterinary care.