31 July 2012
To whom it may concern:
Anybody who visits Greece, whether an animal lover or not, cannot help but notice there are large numbers of stray dogs and cats everywhere…. in towns, villages and on the islands. I will address mainly the problem of stray dogs but cats are also a huge problem. Where do these animals originate from??? They are certainly not a phenomenon which ‘just happens’ and they don’t appear on the streets ‘accident’. Most stray dogs were NOT born on the streets, but abandoned by the irresponsible owners of unsterilised female dogs (often dogs that are kept chained 24/7) which they let breed because they can’t be bothered or are too mean to spend money on getting them spayed. Those that are seen abandoned on the streets, the countryside etc account for merely a small percentage of dogs that are actually born, because many thousands perish at the bottom of garbage cans, thrown over cliffs, stuffed in plastic bags and simply dumped by the roadside, if they are not drowned or killed in some other barbaric fashion. Adult dogs do not fare much better, especially hunting dogs who are used, abused and discarded like pieces of trash. Dogs in Greece are abandoned for the most trivial of reasons, because a family want to go on holiday for example. No thought was given to this problem when they bought or obtained their dog and kennels cost money that they are not prepared to spend, Veterinary costs are also not considered or the possibility that a dog will get sick. The puppy bought from a pet shop or given as a present will not remain a puppy forever….. oops, really?! ‘OK, lets get rid of it’ is they usual flippant answer to what is seen as a mildly irritating ‘problem’. I could continue but what is the point!!! I will also not touch on the subject of widespread poisoning of ‘strays’ or the large numbers that are killed on the roads every day (if they are ‘lucky’ enough to be killed outright).
The ONLY long-term solution to reducing the number of strays on the streets is to sterilise OWNED dogs (males as well as females!) en masse, but in the meantime, foreign vets who are willing to go to Greece to sterilise STRAY dogs and cats for free should be welcomed by the Greek authorities AND the Greek Veterinary Association with open arms. Private vets should have no objections to this. Stray dogs or cats are NOT THEIR CLIENTS!!!!! Small animal welfare societies and individual animal rescuers do not have the funds to cover the fees charged by private vets charge for sterilisations, even if they are willing to give 10-20% discount for strays. Everybody is struggling financially to make ends meet and if the vets were truly concerned about the welfare of animals, they would offer better terms.
I am aware of the recent scheme whereby the Greek vets are ‘allowed’ to offer free sterilisations for strays, but in all honesty, I can’t see them queuing up to give their time and medications for free. What is it that is preventing the Greek authorities from accepting the gracious offers of qualified foreign vets who are willing to come to Greece and carry out much needed work? Early in July a team of vets from the UK were blocked from working on Lesbos, yet there were no problems or objections from local vets the previous two years. The British vets worked to the highest standard, were well organised, yet they were forced to withdraw due to the intolerable pressure they were put under. I believe the same happened on Crete, in Serres and a couple of other places. It is almost as if the Greek authorities AND the Greek vets are saying: ‘let stray animals die, they are worthless’.
Shame on the Greek authorities and the Veterinary Association for their intolerant attitude towards the victims of their profession. The ‘financial interests’ of the veterinarians can’t always be put ahead of animal welfare concerns, especially in a country which has such a vast stray problem. What happened to compassion or even to adhering to the Hippocratic Oath?
I attach with this letter an email (translated into English, though you will have received the Greek version yourselves) written by the President of Animal Protection, Chania, who summarises the situation as it is and I would be most interested to find out what your reply to her will be. I also await your reply to my email with anticipation.
Founder of Greek Animal Rescue
Founder of Greek Animal Rescue