Advice for visitors to Greece
For many of the abused, abandoned and neglected animals in Greece there is little you can do to help.
There are laws protecting animals but they are rarely enforced. However, a recent directive from the Greek Government instructs the police to respond immediately to all complaints of animal abuse and to enforce the law where abuse or cruelty is proven.
You can read the directive HERE.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU COME ACROSS A STRAY DOG OR CAT
1. NEVER bring a dog or cat into your apartment. It is unfair to allow a stray to become attached to you because the day will come when you have to leave and will have to put them back on the street. In other words, just when they’re made to feel loved and secure, they’re abandoned … double betrayal!
2. If you want to feed the strays, do so away from the hotel you are staying at. If the dogs/cats know they will be fed, they will hang around, which is something hotel owners and staff do not appreciate. The dogs/cats risk being hit, poisoned, or even driven into the mountains where they are left to starve. This is NO exaggeration!. If you feed dogs/cats, don’t hang around, but leave while they’re eating. Don’t let the animals become too attached to you, as they will miss the affection you give them after you leave.
3. Don’t let the dog(s) / cat(s) you have befriended follow you around. It may seem flattering, but when you leave, they will once again have to fend for themselves.
4. If you find an injured animal, a tourist information office (or the owner of the hotel where you’re staying) should be able to give you details of where a vet can be found or if there’s an animal welfare organisation you could contact. However, taxi drivers (in general) are not willing to put an animal into their cars, nor are they allowed on public transport (buses etc).
5. If you are upset by the plight of animals, don’t ignore it, thinking that there’s nothing you can do to make a difference …. make a fuss … be vocal!! In addition, on your return home, please complete the ‘complaints’ form – see below for details.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WITNESS CRUELTY OR ABUSE
1. If it is safe to do so and you are able to communicate with the owner, politely explain that you do not agree with the way the animal is being treated and offer suggestions for improving the situation.
2. Report the incident to the nearest police station, giving your name and contact details when you make the complaint. Make sure you have accurate details of where the incident occurred or where the animal is located. Take photos and provide them as evidence of your complaint.
3.Show the police a copy (in Greek) of the government directive that instructs them to investigate your complaint and answer in writing, detailing the action taken. You can download a Greek version of the letter HERE and the English version HERE
Complete the tourist complaint form which can be found HERE and send it to the following e-mail addresses and the Greek Tourism Organisation (address below). Please send photos if available.
The Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT)
Dept of Complaints and Consumer Protection An. Tsocha 24 & Soutsou
1. Be polite but persistent with members of the public and the police Warning: Swearing and bad language is an offense in Greece and you can be arrested for using it, so no matter how you feel, be polite.
2. Stealing animals is also an offense and you will be arrested for any attempt to steal an animal.
3. Do NOT go to the police to report every stray animal you see. The police are not responsible for strays and are only required to respond in cases of mistreatment or abuse. If you do witness somebody actually abandoning an animal you can report this but you need to have evidence in the form of the of the car license plate or any other details that will identify the culprit.
4. Bear in mind that standards of animal welfare in Greece are not the same as in other European countries. The police are unlikely to react to animals you see chained or living outside in makeshift kennels. Your complaint must involve abuse or gross neglect.
5. The local council is responsible by law for stray animals. Most do not undertake this responsibility and it falls to animal welfare organisations to pick up and care for strays. These groups of volunteers may be able to help you but remember also that with the huge number of stray animals in Greece they are stretched to the limits and are just not able to help every animal.
The letter in Greek is a directive from the chief of police telling the Greek police that they must respond to any complaint from foreign visitors that relate to animals – of doubtful value in village police stations but useful for getting their attention.