The Stray Dog Problem in Athens

I have been living in Greece for the last 33 years and am well acquainted with the recent history of the dog situation in Athens and the rest of Greece.

As in most civilized countries, in Greece too, every municipality had a "dogpound" and a "dog catcher". And, as in most cities throughout the world,many domesticated dogs in Greece would one way or another gain their "freedom" from their owners. Either they would run away on their own, orthey would be "let go" by irresponsible owners.

Whatever the case may have been, these stray dogs often would breed and have puppies and multiply accordingly. The dog catchers in Greece used to step in and round up asmany strays as they could. The strays were held in the local municipal dogpounds for a period of no more than 90 days, and if no one claimed thedogs, they were typically then put to sleep.This system kept the stray dog population down to a manageable level upuntil about 10 years ago. At about that time, a local animal rights activist group found out about a particular dog pound that kept their dogs in miserable and inhuman conditions. They visited the pound and filmed the scene. Then they took their evidence and presented it to the local District Attorney who in turn issued a warrant for the responsible mayor's arrest.That mayor was charged with the crime of "maltreatment of animals" which is a very serious offense in Greek law. He was convicted and sentenced to several months in prison along with a stiff monetary fine. As a result, almost every municipality in Greece dissolved their dog pounds and fired their dog catchers.

As you can understand, the paved the way for the stray dogs to multiply without restriction, and today they have become a serious problem. Many people, and especially children, have been attacked and mauled by gangs of wild dogs. But, no one takes responsibility. The local Humane Society has been making every effort it can to feed and take care of as many stray dogs as they can handle, but their numbers keep growing. They try to neuter as many of the dogs as they can, but they just can't seem to put even a small dent into the problem. Fortunately, rabies has been eliminated from Greece since the late 50's, but you never know what might happen with all these strays wandering throughoutGreece.

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