March 2004 - Last updated October 2008
Poison and Prejudice around the Parthenon.
How Greece created the Olympic dream
at the cost of thousands of homeless animals.
2 - Analysis
Part 1 of this complete report)
In the run-up to the Olympics it seemed that the Greek media
along with a handful of nationalistic elders were twisting truths
to inflate a proud country's political and social moral prior to
an important international occasion.
Greece might have hoped that animal injustice stories, which "appeared"
to put them in a compassionate light, could turn international focus
away from its own infamous stray problem.
As host to the Olympic Games in 2004, the country had attempted
to achieve an elegant, animal friendly image. But ironically, this
was at the cost of its stray dog and cat population as stories of
barbaric street poisoning found their way into newspapers around
Greece has long
been a powerful and prosperous nation. It proudly boasts to have
given civilisation to the world and offers itself as a cultural
gem of cinematic proportions. In 2004 the Greek government and its
public were more nervous than ever about international focus on
one simple, infamous subject - the country's stray animal population;
a highly contentious issue that continues to make this founding
seat of academia look the least "civilised" of all European
represents one of the greatest paradoxes of all countries black-listed
for cruelty to animals. It enjoys international relations as the
largest industrial shipping trade in the world - along with huge
profits through its tourist industry. In fact, around eleven million
visitors holiday in the country each year - a number higher than
its own population of 10.25 million.
But being so popular as a world tourist destination inadvertently
reveals one level of its culture that's clearly unacceptable to
many of its visitors; The streets and beaches are teaming with stray
dogs and cats in various stages of abandon and starvation.
Across Greece there is a high proportion of ingrained patriotism
attached to animals. It's brought about through a blend of old cultures,
customs and authority, which is seemingly in denial that a cruelty
problem exists. Based on attitudes shrouded by national pride and
even traditional superstition towards animals, Greek tourism propaganda
is now in full swing; By hook or by crook, the country was determined
to present itself to the rest of the world as a whiter than white
showcase for animal compassion, and all this before the start of
the August 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
here is that modern day Greece doesn't like to be seen from an international
viewpoint as the social cause of a problem, which commonly leads
to thousands of neglected domestic animals being flown out to caring
homes in other countries - all to save them from deliberate poisoning
and appalling living conditions year after year. And this is where
an anomaly bleeds though Greek culture and its authority, creating
a bizarre double standard in animal welfare. While a small but effective
portion of caring native Greeks battle to save the thousands of
pets abandoned each year from neglect and death, the rest of its
population believe they are treating their cats and dogs with true
In fact, Greece is one of five European countries that has outlawed
the import and export of cat and dog fur. But at the same time the
country has one of the highest populations of abandoned / stray
animals on the European continent. As many international press reports
will reveal, each year thousands of dogs and cats are thrown into
the streets by negligent owners prior to travelling on holiday or
simply through boredom of owning a pet. To a proportion of Greek
society, dogs are considered more of a barking deterrent than a
loving companion and are often found chained to fence posts in all
weather conditions simply to guard properties. The animal may spend
its entire life tied up in this way.
Many Greeks do care about the state of animal welfare in their
country. This banner presented at a huge anti-poison protest
in Athens, June 2004 is a quote from Ghandi saying ''You
can see the grandeur and the moral progress of a nation by the
way it treats its animals''.
here for more pictures - caution very upsetting images
But the double
standards don't end there: Although a new law has been passed, requiring
pet owners to register and identify their animals, many Greeks are
opposed to neutering on the grounds that their animals should enjoy
a sex life. This extraordinary logic means that thousands of abandoned
puppies and kittens end up on the streets of Athens and the country's
beaches, dying of starvation, disease or through deliberate poisoning.
And because they are un-neutered, the animals breed rapidly, creating
an ever-spiralling problem. Many animals born in these conditions
don't survive, but those which do, fall pregnant very quickly.
Animal poisoning appears to be frequent in the city streets of Greece,
and thousands regularly suffer horrendous deaths by this method,
either on new building sites, in the streets … or any area being
"cleansed" before major events.
authorities deny any connection with mass poisonings, Greece on
the whole seems un-willing to deal with its domestic animal care
in a practical and humane manner. Because of this, the government's
recent ban on the import and export of cat and dog fur is beginning
to appear more of a calculated gesture to show the international
community that they are "in control" of the trafficking of domestic
animals. Although a compassionate gesture in principle, there may
be ulterior motives - and knock-on effects. In this case, Greek
authorities, both official and unofficial seem unwilling to differentiate
between a potential trafficker of animal fur and genuine animal
rescuers trying to fly out neglected animals to loving new owners.
This seems to indicate that there is an element of Greek pride that
is dictating an eccentric and damaging method of animal traffic
Whilst being in denial that there is a massive stray problem, they
are simultaneously relishing in false stories, which claim that
thousands of foreign traffickers are flying strays out of the country
for fur and vivisection. This contradiction suits part of the patriotic,
old school Greek mindset, rather than believe the truth; that other
young, compassionate Greeks are attempting to save animals from
abandonment and poisoning by their own people by flying them out
to better homes abroad. It's these innocent girls who are then being
accused of selling the animals for fur and vivisection - and the
authorities make no moves to address this injustice by providing
legitimate means for the rescue groups to operate effectively and
without undue hindrance.
masqueraded a ban on cat and dog fur (which costs nothing to introduce)
to divert focus on the continuing atrocities towards domestic animals
taking place in its own country? In August 2004 when a visitor to
the Olympic Games walked along clean streets near the stadiums -
empty of the usual population of sick and dying animals - but also
aware that Greece had banned the sale of cat and dog fur, then the
country may morally have seemed a very impressive place. But little
may he or she have realised how this tidy scenario was arrived at
… because in a few months those same streets would be filling once
more with pets abandoned by their owners. Continued
... Click here for Part 3 - Backgrounds of Greece and other countries
cited as cruel to animals >
Poison and Prejudice around the Parthenon MENU
1 - Main Story
2 - Analysis - Pre-Olympic Jitters
3 - Backgrounds of Greece and other countries cited as cruel to
Page - caution contains upsetting images
If you would
like to find out more about Greek Animal Rescue Groups and donate
to their causes, here is a list of some with direct web-site links:
Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF).
Animal Rescue (GAR)
Group for the Protection of Animals "Noah's Ark".
Care Corfu Animal
Animal Trust (KATs).
find more animal rescue groups in our Global Charities and Groups
Animal, Environmental and Humanitarian Aid Charities Directory
Animal, Environmental and Conservation Groups Directory
and VeggieGlobal News Copyright.
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