Greece considers new national animal control law in anticipation of 2004 Olympic furor
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:
ATHENS-Greek deputy agriculture minister Fotis Hadzimichalis
on December 19, 2002 introduced a proposed national animal control
bill which according to Agence France-Press “would discourage Greeks
from abandoning their animals, while allowing local authorities to
collect, sterilize, and in certain cases kill stray dogs.”
Hadzimichalis told Agence France-Presse that, “This is the
practical answer to those who malignly accused our country of
creating crematoria for strays ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games.”
The proposed law reportedly stipulates that dogs found at
large will be vaccinated, sterilized, held for a reclaim period,
and then be returned to the capture point if deemed healthy and not
dangerous. Those suffering from incurable illness or infirmity and
those considered dangerous will be killed.
According to Agence France-Presse, the proposed law also
forbids allowing dogs to run at large in public places, dogfighting,
and breeding animals for fights or “other events that can cause pain,
anxiety, or death.”
The proposed law was introduced with a proposal to tax dogs
to fund enforcement and sheltering, but the taxation provision was
withdrawn after animal advocates warned that it might encourage
Hadzimichalis proposed the law in response to more than a
year of campaigning by activists who warn that the 2004 Olympics
could become a pretext for exterminating street dogs and feral cats.
“Illegal poisoning of free-roaming animals occurs every day.
Given the frequency of poisonings, we are concerned that they will
escalate as Greece prepares to host the 2004 Olympics,” Coaltion In
Defense of Animals in Greece cofounder Anne Scheving warned in the
November 2002 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Thessaloniki animal advocate John Laden attended the November
2002 Inter-national Companion Animal Welfare Conference in Prague,
he told ANIMAL PEOPLE, primarily to warn that some Greek cities
might simply truck dogs into remote regions and release them into
pens to starve, out of sight and out of mind. Laden claimed to know
of specific locations where this is already done. Dogcatchers have
used similar tactics in several other nations when caught between
factions wanting just to get rid of street dogs and factions opposing
On November 28, soon after the Prague conference, Greek
military reserve Lieutenant Dimitris Tachas, 28, drew a five-month
suspended sentence for beheading eight newborn puppies with an ax at
the Langadas military training camp in Thessaloniki.
Greek authorities cited the case as a demonstration of intent
to abolish cruelty to animals, but the suspended sentence was less
encouraging to many animal defenders than the simultaneous acquittal
of Private Vassilis Routsis for allegedly assaulting Tachas after
discovering the killings.
Antonis Papadopolos, 57, of Ioannis Rendis, Piraeus, was
sentenced on December 27 to serve 27 months in prison and was fined
900 euros for unlawfully killing animals, destroying property,
resisting arrest, and illegal possession and use of a weapon.
Police reportedly caught Papadopolos in the act of fatally shooting
four dogs. Firing two shots into the air, Papadopolos allegedly
fled by car to Moschato, where he smashed the window of a police
vehicle before being subdued. He was freed pending the outcome of an
appeal of his sentence.
The Tachas and Papadopolos prosecutions did not prevent the
poisoning of dozens of dogs and cats in and around the National
Gardens in Athens on New Year’s Eve., just ahead of a visit by
European Union president Romano Prodi. The St. Francis of Assisi
Animal Welfare Society posted a reward of 1,500 euros for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of the poisoner, and held a
protest march to publicize the case.
Greek nonenforcement of European Union animal welfare
standards was exposed by undercover video released at a January 9
media conference in Brussels by the British group Compassion In World
Farming and the European Coalition for Farm Animals.
The video showed sheep and goats being slaughtered in at
least two Greek abattoirs without effective prestunning.
“The Greek authorities have known of the serious problems in
their slaughterhouses for many years and have not acted,” CIWF and
the ECFA charged.
“This new evidence follows a CIWF investigation in 1998 which
showed illegal slaughter methods in Greek sheep abattoirs. In 2001,
a European Commission report was highly critical of welfare standards
in Greek slaughterhouses. The Greek authorities have failed to take
any action to stop this law-breaking and suffering,” the video
Greece currently chairs the E.C. The chair rotates among the
member nations every six months.