Greek street animals — Olympic organizers go for hearts of gold
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2003:
ATHENS–Fears among Greek animal advocates that street dogs
and feral cats might be poisoned en masse before the 2004 Olympic
Games eased on June 26 when Athens 2004 Organizing Committee
president Gianna Angelopoulou Daskalaki endorsed a plan to sterilize,
vaccinate, tattoo, and return to their neighborhoods as many as
20,000 animals, beginning in September 2003.
Greek deputy agrculture minister Fotis Hatzimichalis
announced that the project would begin with a budget of one million
euros. Local municipalities are to provide animal capture vehicles
and surgical workspace. The actual capturing is to be done by
volunteers or staff of nonprofit animal welfare societies.
“We will show the world that Greeks can live in harmony with
street dogs,” Hatzimichalis said. “This is our response to those
who have accused Greece of creating crematoria for stray dogs. This
progressive plan,” modeled after the ABC programs of India, “is an
example to other countries that collect all strays and euthanize them
within a certain number of days if they are not rehomed.”
“We believe that a healthy, sterilized, vaccinated animal
is not dangerous, unhealthy to be around, or unpleasant,” said
Pan-Hellenic Veterinary Association president Kostas Handras.
“This is what we have been campaigning for,” added Carol
McBeth of the Greek Animal Welfare Fund.
The TNR plan is to be formalized as part of a new national
humane law introduced by Hatzimichalis in December 2002 and redrafted
in May 2003 to eliminate fees for dog licensing and identification
which animal advocates believed might act as a disincentive to
Abandoned with introduction of the TNR plan was a proposal to
impound thousands of dogs. The one public shelter in Athens was
demolished in connection with Olympic construction, and no nearby
community wanted to host the equivalent of a canine concentration