In Greece, literally millions of free-roaming cats and street dogs live in constant fear of poisoning, starvation, sickness, collisions with vehicles, and random acts of brutal cruelty. Network for Animals (NFA) hopes a proposed new law will make sterilization mandatory and stem the tide of animal abandonment, abuse, and neglect.
The introduction of mandatory sterilization and ear notching of all pets has been received with mixed reviews. While the amendments are a step in the right direction, many exceptions have sparked concerns. Greece is notorious for its poor implementation of already existing animal welfare laws.
Under the new law, owners have two months from birth for pets to be registered and three months to sterilize them or face a €1,000.00 ($1,194 or £860) fine. However, the proposed new law is immediately weakened because of a wide range of exceptions.
David Barritt, executive director of NFA, says his organization has worked for six years helping street cats and dogs throughout Greece and, even if the bill is passed, things will not change until the authorities change their attitudes. “We are constantly shocked by the lack of concern shown by local and national authorities for street animals. Existing laws are frequently ignored, prosecutions for animal cruelty are rare, and complaints to police not acted upon.”
He said that while the new law is a small step in the right direction, Greece lags far behind other European countries in taking animal welfare seriously. There are more than a million street dogs in Greece, and in impoverished communities, veterinary services are often unavailable making even basic implementation of laws impossible. What needs to be done is for the authorities to do their jobs and enforce the laws. We are not hopeful that this will be done.”