Evacuations of Greek dogs & cats for adoption are halted by rumors
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2004:
ATHENS–Two activists taking advantage of the publicity
surrounding the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to promote adoptions of
street dogs and cats from Greece were accused in a heavily publicized
March 11 confrontation at the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport near
Athens of covertly supplying dogs and cats to laboratories.
Greek Animal Welfare Society representative Carol McBeth
rushed to the airport to refute the spurious charge, on behalf of
the less well known people and organizations who were accused. Greek
Animal Welfare Society president Vesna Jones also vouched for the
rescuers in subsequent correspondence. Nonetheless, airport
officials did not allow the export of six puppies who already had
adoptive families waiting in Belgium, and as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to
press, had clamped down on all dog and cat exports by organizations
which do not operate licensed animal shelters in Greece.
The incident reportedly started when Iris Roussi, vice
president of Zoofiliki Ilioupolis, and Mieke Schuddinck, founder of
the Belgian organization Poezenboot Caprice, were intercepted at the
airport by Greek Animal Lovers Organization president Ioannina
Karagouni, an attorney who accompanied her, and Alpha-TV reporter
Spyros Lambrou. Lambrou and H. Anastasaki of the newspaper Espresso
then extensively amplified Karagouni’s claims.
The allegations by Karagouni paralleled the content of a
recent open letter to Greek agriculture minister Georgios Drys by
Greek writer Maria Tsatsou, co-signed by four lawyers, bookseller
Evi Tziouda, and publisher Giorgos Chronaw.
Neither Karagouni nor Tsatsou et al appear to have presented
any documented instances of Greek animals coming to grisly fates
abroad, but both hinted that Greek animals might be used not only in
labs but also for meat and pelts.
Both appear to have based their innuendo on a combination of
unsubstantiated tabloid claims and Internet postings about alleged
dog and cat production for meat and fur in Belgium and Switzerland,
Greek incredulity that foreign rescuers are willing to spend money to
export animals without the expectation of significant profit, and
national pride outraged by more than a year of frequent calls by
foreign animal advocates for a boycott of the Olympics.
Among the most furious critics of foreign efforts are some
Greek rescuers whose own overcrowded facilities have been targets of
exposes, and whose hopes that the Athens Olympics might bring them
government funding or large foreign grants have come to nothing.
With construction now far behind schedule and the entire
Olympic effort reportedly in financial trouble, some planned
facilities have been cancelled, others have been scaled back, and
Greek news media are increasingly preoccupied with questions about
where all the money spent so far has gone, including money spent in
anticipation of foreign investment that never materialized.