Life

Activists battle animal cruelty in Greece

Activists push Greece authorities to enforce animal cruelty laws and prosecute perpetrators.

19.09.2014
Activists battle animal cruelty in Greece

By Magda Panoutsopoulou

ATHENS

Last month, a restaurant owner in Nea Styra, a coastal town on the eastern Greek island of Evia, used food to lure a puppy named Magi to his side. Then he beat the puppy to death. 

The incident was far from unique in this land that considers itself the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of philosophy.

In July, a cat was found in Athens with a wire wound so tightly around its body that it caused severe intestinal injury. The cat, named Solomon by his rescuer, was lucky to survive after an operation at the Veterinary Center of Kifisia, an Athens hospital for small animals.

The rescuer adopted him.

In August, another cat wandered into a coffee shop in a small village called Aghios, again on Evia. For this trespass, the cat was beaten to death with a chair.

Activists say such attacks are common in Greece, especially in rural areas: Animals have been hanged, beaten, poisoned and treated in other inhumane ways. 

Laws banning animal cruelty are on the books. But critics say they are neither strict enough, nor enforced. 

Sometimes, activists say, the law is disregarded completely, as in the case of a dog shot by a former police officer in Athens. The officer was never arrested and paid no penalty. 

But now supporters of animal rights and others are starting to fight back.

Incidents of cruelty are being covered by news organizations. And animal welfare organizations are pushing for tighter laws and organizing rallies to demand that alleged perpetrators be tried.

About 500 people protested outside the restaurant in Nea Styra a day after the puppy was killed. Some carried signs that read “Justice for Magi” and bore a picture of the puppy.

“We will no longer back down from this cruelty that is happening to animals all over Greece," one demonstrator, Dido Mangriotis, told The Anadolu Agency. "Perpetrators should have this in mind -- they will find us everywhere.”

But cruelty to animals continues. Despite the laws, there are in Greece no animal welfare inspectors or enforcement agencies like the RSPCA -- the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in the U.K. -- that work to bring people accused of such crimes to trial.

“The biggest difference between Greece and the U.K. is that there are animal welfare inspectors employed by the RSPCA, and they investigate cruelty reports,” said Carol MacBeth, a veterinary nurse who lives in Athens.

But in Greece, animal welfare groups are now pressuring the government to enforce the law.

As a result of publicity surrounding some of the recent incidents, officials have tightened the arrest procedure. The order now is for alleged perpetrators to be arrested at the scene of the crime -- something that did not happen in the past. 

In addition, the district attorney has sent a note to the head of the police force in Athens directing the force to investigate such crimes rather than turn its back, as in days gone by.

Much remains to be done, activists say. But the pressure seems to be having an effect. It has resulted in a more thorough examination of each alleged incident.

And the case of the puppy beaten to death in July ended with the offender paying a fine of €30,000 -- a penalty the likes of which would never have been imposed in Greece in the past. 

www.aa.com.tr/en

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