Turkey, Austria, Italy win animal welfare laurels; Greece pulls up lame

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:

ATHENS–Turkey, Austria, and Italy
claimed the gold, silver, and bronze medals for
passing pro-animal legislation on the eve of the
2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Britain tried to
get into the race.
Activists pushing for animal welfare
reform in Greece meanwhile say they have had
little to show for their pre-Olympic efforts so
far except videos of dead dogs and cats, and
livestock being abused en route to slaughter.
Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan on
July 1 endorsed into law the most comprehensive
animal welfare statute in the Islamic world.
“I am now in contact with the government
to discuss implementing the law as it affects
stray animal control,” Fethiye Friends of
Animals founder Perihan Agnelli told ANIMAL
“I am very pleased,” Agnelli said,
“that as well as neuter/return being lawfully
accepted as the method of animal control [except
in the case of a declared rabies emergency],
compulsory neutering of privately owned dogs is
also to become law.

“It is not the intent of the law to stop
dogs from being born,” Agnelli said, “but to
regulate new births so that unwanted puppies are
no longer thrown out to create a stray dog
problem. Should an owner want a dog to have
puppies,” Agnelli explained, “he or she must
apply for a license. The license will be granted
if the owner can show suitable home conditions
and the means to look after the puppies.
“Professional breeders will be licensed
on a yearly basis,” Agnelli added, “and will
have to fulfill requirements as to kennel
conditions and veterinary care.”
The Turkish law prohibits breeding pit
bull terriers and other dogs commonly used for
fighting, and prohibits all forms of organized
animal fighting and baiting.
“Cutting ears, docking tails, and
removing nails and teeth are prohibited, unless
necessary for the health of the animal,” Agnelli
“No longer can you hit a dog on the road
and leave the dog lying dead or injured,” she
continued. “There are penalties for not taking
an injured animal to a veterinarian.
“There are no imprisonment penalties,”
for any offense covered by the new law, Agnelli
acknowledged, “but fines are levied for
infringements, and the amounts of the fines are
set out in the appendices.
“The law allows laboratory use of
animals,” for human disease research, “but does
not allow animal testing of cosmetics.
“Animal slaughter [for meat] is now under
stricter regulation. Turkey is a Muslim nation
and hallal ritual slaughter is inherent,”
Perihan reminded.
World Society for the Protection of Animals
director of communications Philip Lymbery and
Ankara Animal Protection Association founder
Hulya Alpgiray had asked the Turkish government
to require pre-stunning of animals to be
Even in Britain, however, where Muslims
who practice hallal slaughter and Jews who
practice kosher slaughter together come to less
than 5% of the population, a proposal to require
pre-stunning recently failed to draw sufficient
support to advance. Recommended in June 2003 by
the Farm Animal Welfare Council, a British
government advisory body, the proposed
pre-stunning bill was withdrawn in April 2004.
“I am grateful to many people who
contributed to passing this law,” Agnelli
finished, “which has been a long time coming. I
am particularly grateful to Osman Pepe, the
minister who had the burden of getting the law
through the legislative commissions and

Austrian law already applied

The new Austrian law, adopted on May 27,
on July 12 influenced a three-judge Austrian High
Court panel to acquit Association Against Animal
Factories president Martin Balluch of charges
resulting from his “open rescue” of seven hens
from a farm in Kleinsierning during March 2003.
“There were six chickens in battery cages
which by law should have held only four,”
Balluch said. “Dead chickens were rotting in the
cages. The rescued birds were seriously ill,
and one had to be put down” by the emergency
veterinary clinic to which Balluch and a reporter
accompanying him took the hens at approximately 3
Balluch complained to the Austrian
veterinary authorities. The farmer was fined 200
euros and was ordered to reduce his caging
density, but appealed the verdict. The appeal
was pending as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
Balluch meanwhile was convicted of theft and was
sentenced to pay a fine of 450 euros or spend 60
days in jail. The farmer also sued Balluch.
The High Court reversed the conviction.
“The three judges found me not guilty,” Balluch
e-mailed to Compassion In World Farming president
Joyce D’Silva, who relayed the news to ANIMAL
“The judges agreed that although I broke in and
removed property from the farmer,” Balluch
explained, “the new animal protection law
underlines that society at large agrees with my
activity and that I acted rightly, with good
intentions, in liberating the hens.”
Italian law part of trend
The new Italian law, approved by the national
parliament on July 7, increases the penalties
for animal abandonment, arranging animal fights,
killing animals without lawful cause, and
torturing animals, and criminalizes selling dog
or cat fur products.
The city of Monza, famed for hosting the Italian
Grand Prix auto race, on July 22 reinforced the
national legislation with a municipal bylaw that
also bans the use of live animals as prizes and
the sale of dyed chicks at fairs.
Reggio Emilia, an affluent Bologna suburb,
introduced a trend toward adopting local animal
welfare statutes in March 2004. Among other
provisions of the Reggio Emilia bylaw, drafted
by veterinarian Olga Patacini, social birds such
as parrots and budgerigars must have companions;
bird cages must be at least five times the width
of the birds’ wingspans; hunting with dogs and
boiling lobsters alive are prohibited; and the
community is to employ a fulltime feral cat
tender. Enforcement of the Reggio Emilia bylaw
has yet to be tested.

British bills pending

Britain will probably not update the 1911
Protection of Animals Act before the next
national election, but junior environment
minister Ben Bradshaw on July 14 published a
draft revision that would ban tail-docking and
ear-cropping, giving live animals as prizes,
and selling animals to minors.
“There will be a new duty of care on pet
owners, including the directors of companies
[that sell animals],” wrote Daily Telegraph
environment editor Charles Clover. “For the
first time the law will define what constitutes
cruelty. People convicted of failing in their
duty of care may be disqualified from owning
animals. Animal welfare is defined as consisting
of a suitable environment, adequate food and
water, the ability to display normal behavior,
housing with its own species, and appropriate
treatment of pain or disease. Government
inspectors and police are to be given
wide-ranging powers to enter premises and
vehicles, and to confiscate pets to enforce
these standards.”
A separate bill published on June 28 would update
the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Ostriches,
emus, sloths, porcupines, Bengal cats, and
possibly dwarf caymans and crocodiles would be
removed from the list of regulated species,
while anacondas, pythons, and snapping turtles
might be added to it. Keepers of dangerous
animals would be billed for their recapture in
event of escape.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott
meanwhile hinted on July 23 that the Tony Blair
government will not again push a long awaited
bill to ban fox hunting during the present
legislative session. Daily Telegraph political
correspondent Andrew Sparrow reported that others
in the Blair government were still saying that
the fox hunting ban, promised since 1997, would
be pushed through the House of Commons on a
single day in September, and that the rarely
used Parliament Act would be invoked to bypass
opposition from the House of Lords.
The political price of the hunting ban
may be stronger legislation to crack down on
violence and acts of intimidation by militant
animal rights activists. Cambridge University in
January 2004 suspended work on a primate
research center, and two construction firms in
July 2004 withdrew from work on a biomedical
research lab at Oxford University, because
security costs had become untenable.
“Last month members of the Animal
Liberation Front destroyed three lorries using
incendiary devices” at the headquarters of a
concrete supplier,” reported Jonathan Brown and
Marie Woolf of The Independent.
Added Robin McKie and Mark Townsend of
The Observer, “Between November 1999 and
September 2002, an estimated 450 demonstrations,
many of them violent, took place outside
Huntingdon Life Sciences Laboratory,” in
Cambridge. “There were arrests on only 28
occasions. Tactics used by activists included
throwing rape alarms on the roofs of the homes of
lab staff, planting burning crosses in gardens,
sending bomb threats to schools of employees’
children, pouring acid on cars, smashing homes,
and daubing on walls claims that staff are
rapists and pedophiles.”
Home Secretary David Blunkett on July 24
proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice Act
of 2001 and the Harassment Act of 1997 to
prohibit home demonstrations and strengthen the
penalties for home invasion.

Greek dogs get hemlock

On June 21 the Greek ministry of
agricultural development and foods reiterated a
pledge incorporated into legislation in 2003 to
spend four million euros on sterilizing,
vaccinating, and sheltering street dogs from the
Olympic venues for up to 45 days before, during,
and just after the Olympics.
Athens International Airport animal
control personnel and representatives of 10 Greek
animal welfare groups who were designated by
their municipalities to supervise the work
attended a two-day methodology workshop on June
21-22 directed by Royal SPCA international
program chief David Bowles and senior inspector
Carroll Lamport.
“During the last 10 years there has been
a big change in attitudes toward animal welfare
in Greece,” Bowles said.
But Bowles pointed out to Athens News
reporter Cordelia Madden that, “Nobody knows the
number of animals” to be impounded, “nor,
therefore, how much accommodation is needed for
them. No one knows how the dogs will react when
put away and then put out on the streets again.
I hope they are not just sweeping the problem
under the carpet for the Games,” Bowles said.
“This is a long-term problem that needs a
long-term solution.”
Bowles was much less optimistic three
weeks later, speaking to David Harrison of the
Sunday Telegraph.
“We are seriously concerned,” Bowles
said, “that thousands of dogs will be poisoned
so that Greece can show that Athens is a pristine
modern city. They don’t have the staff or the
shelters to round up all of the dogs. Many of
the local authorities simply do not know how to
deal with dogs humanely. We have put a lot of
effort into helping them,” Bowles continued,
“but the results have been very patchy. We would
like to see them use private shelters so that all
of the dogs can be given homes during the
Olympics,” Bowles added, “but it looks like
that is not going to happen.”
Predicted Greek Animal Welfare Fund
director Carol McBeth, “I think we may see
poisonings in the places where the cycling,
football, and equestrian events are being held.
They will be very keen to make sure that those
areas are clear, and they don’t have shelters
for the dogs.”
Published on July 11, Harrison’s article
was headlined “Greeks to poison up to 15,000
stray dogs before the Olympics,” but the source
of the claim was not identified.
On July 14 Alpha-TV/Greece (not to be
confused with the Punjabi network of the same
name) broadcast allegations that numerous dogs
collected from the Olympic Torch Relay route
killed and injured each other in the back of an
overcrowded truck. One witness videotaped the
wounded dogs.
“We categorically deny these evil-minded,
malicious and unfounded reports that are aimed at
libeling our country in the run-up to the Games,”
fumed deputy agriculture minister Alexandros
Kontos on July 21.
The Athens News published Kontos’ remarks
below a photo of children in Nafplio inspecting
the corpse of a poisoned puppy.
Kontos cited the sterilization,
vaccination, and impoundment requirements
adopted in 2003.
Noted Cordelia Madden, “He did not
mention how many municipalities have actually
implemented this program, nor how many animals
have to date been sterilized. He noted that
poisoning animals has been a crime in Greece
since 1981,” but “No poisoner has yet been fined
or imprisoned,” Madden said. “On July 27, a
landmark case will be held to judge a man,
identified as George Limakis, who illegally
entered a neighbour’s house in Paleo Faliro and
poisoned the Belgian shepherd dog within. If he
is convicted, it will be a first.”
“It is interesting to see how quickly the
authorities deny poisoning dogs and accuse the
foreign press of libeling Greece’” said Greek
Animal Welfare Society president Vesna Jones,
“because the so-called foreigners have for many
months been subjected to slanderous allegations
by the Greek press and TV, never mind xenophobic
individuals and gossip-mongers, of illegally
transporting strays from Greece and selling them
for vivisection and the fur trade, none of which
is substantiated with any evidence. On the other
hand, there is plenty of evidence of poisoning,
and most of the reports about it come from Greek
Welfare for Animals in Greece founder
Marijo Gillis posted video documentation of dog
poisonings at <www.ua4a/Greece.mov>, including
scenes of municipal workers in city trucks
collecting dead dogs from sidewalks.
“I lived in Greece for over 14 years,”
Gillis told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “and have made four
investigative journeys to Greece just this year.
I have plans to travel to Greece again during the
Olympics,” Gillis said, “to do a follow-up
network TV story.”
But like other activists who have tried
to use the Olympics as an opportunity to seek
change in Greece, Gillis admitted to deep
“Despite meetings with Greek ministers
and city officials, appearances on nationwide
Greek TV programs, and pressure from the animal
rights community worldwide, the horrific status
quo in Greece persists for both companion animals
and farmed animals,” Gillis said.
Part of the problem was that the Olympics
are likely to be much less lucrative for Greece
than the Greek government had hoped. Many of the
planned new facilities were scaled back or
cancelled. Three weeks before the games were to
begin, two-thirds of the event tickets remained
unsold. While Gillis and others claimed this as
a success for their boycott calls, the rising
tide of red ink meant less money was potentially
available to sterilize dogs, or impound them,
and made poisoning all the more attractive to
harried officials.
“It’s not a situation we are proud of,”
admitted George Ayfantis, press officer for the
Greek embassy in Ottawa. “Local officials have
extended autonomy and [poisoning is] done at
night,” Ayfantis told Kevin Connor of the
Toronto Sun. “It’s considered a minor offence
and public prosecutors and police don’t want to
go after elected officials.”
Ayfantis was responding to comments by
Canadian Olympic Committee spokesperson Stacey
Smith and Canadian runner Leah Pells.
Smith called the poisonings “horrible,”
but said “It has nothing to do with us.”
“It makes me sick,” said Pells. “The
COC is pathetic. They need to take a stand.”
Agreed Olympic gold medal-winning
wrestler Daniel Igali, “Sporting organizations
can and should influence the ills in society.”

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