Stray dogs in Greece
Conveying responsibility for a dog’s life
Covid-19 crisis: Animal welfare work in times of a pandemic
Some activities and focal points of our animal welfare work worldwide – whether sanctuaries, trainings or mobile clinics – had to be paused or adapted in response to the pandemic:
Still, it is our highest priority to safe animal lives, but we cannot risk the health of our partners in doing so. To enable us to carry on our basic animal welfare work despite the current crisis, we have developed the WTG Emergency Fund. Read more about the fund here https://welttierschutz.org/en/wtg-emergency-fund/
We promise to do everything in our power to continue offering the best protection for all animals – the stray cats and dogs, livestock such as donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats as well as wildlife like pangolins and sloths, elephants and bears. Please support our work https://welttierschutz.org/secure/spenden/emergency-fund/
Despite the best efforts of our partner Zero Stray Pawject e.V. (ZSP) and the local animal shelter, the number of stray dogs on the island of Aegina in Greece has remained constant for years. Although the law prohibits it, people still abandon their dogs on a regular basis. Together with ZSP, the Welttierschutzgesellschaft is creating a new foundation that enables the enforcement of national laws on the island and motivates the animal owners to keep and treat their dogs responsibly.
On the Greek island Aegina, approximately 1800 households own 2000 dogs. Every year around 200 dogs are abandoned, although, if prosecuted, this is subject to severe penalties.
In theory, the stray population on the island of Aegina could be brought under control. The local shelter continuously catches strays and neuters them before either returning them to the place they were found or, whenever possible, placing them in a good new home. However, the number of stray dogs remains the same and our partner every month documents dozens of newcomers on the streets. These animals are often former pets. The reasons for their abandonment are numerous: some have served their time as watch or hunting dogs, while others incur too many expenses.
Dog chipping and registration obligatory – technically
Greek law strictly prohibits the act of abandoning a dog and still doing so can lead to a fine of up to 30.000€ or one year in prison - in theory at least. In reality, barely anyone actually faces the consequences when abandoning their dog. The local authority is unable to enforce consistent prosecution due to financial, personnel and logistics reasons.
As a result, barely any of the 2000 dogs on Aegina are even chipped (only 1.5 Percent (status 01/2018)). This means that finding the dog owners in most cases is almost impossible and thus, there are no criminal prosecutions. Additionally, even if chipped, so far there was no way of actually following up with the animal owners due to logistics as there is no local database of dogs nor access to the national Greek database. Vets update the national database mandatorily; however, without access Aegina was not able to use it for information on already chipped dogs. Meaning at the beginning of our work here, the actual number of already chipped dogs was unknown. There was also no informational exchange or cooperation with the local police that technically are responsible for the control and persecution of people.
To stop the problem at its core, during our first year of working together with ZSP, we created a basis to allow the tracing of dogs to their owners.
In line with the animal welfare law, ZSP developed with our help a local database, which holds the information of all newly registered and chipped dogs. We also managed to gain access to the national database for the local authorities, so that in the future, the local database and national database can be compared and updated accordingly. The police is now supporting the cause as well by using a chip reader on stray dogs that allows the tracing and the criminal persecution of the animals’ owner. First controls have been run and fines have been handed out!
Convincing dog owners to take responsibility for their animals
Informing, supporting and creating incentives: this is how we addressed dog owners during our first year in Aegina. Using different methods, we try to reach dog owners – and achieve a stray-free Aegina.
For one, we started an educational campaign, to reach as many people as possible and to sensitize them to the relevance of chipping and registration. Once a year, flyers are distributed by attaching them to the water bills of every household. This way we all reach 6000 households on the island at once. Informative posters are also hung in veterinary offices and public buildings.
Now that the basics have been established, our work continues…
We continue to work on creating a reliable complete local database. Additionally, every dog owner in the data base is given a questionnaire regarding the topic of chipping and registration to allow us to build an understanding on why the stray problem in Aegina exists in the first place and to create appropriate responsive measures. Animal owners that cannot register their dog simply because of monetary reasons, we support by covering half of the costs of the microchipping.
By using our methods to reduce the stray population and creating responsible care with dogs, we are ensuring a foundation for less animal suffering on the streets of Aegina.