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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


There was a pathetic little black and white cat named Sylvester who lived out on the street corner here on Karaza St.  It looked like it needed a good bath but Carol said it had a growth in its mouth and couldn't clean itself so she and a couple of neighbours were caring for it. They took it to the vet, gave it antibiotics, fed it etc.

The other night there was a terrible racket outside with barking dogs and a yowl of a cat.  In the morning Carol found Sylvester dead on the sidewalk, mauled to death by the marauding dogs.  She was heart broken and so were the other women who cared for him.  Such is the plight of many of the strays here in Athens (and all over Greece) And the animal cruelty extends to dogs, horses, mules and donkeys.  Sometimes they are poisoned, sometimes badly mistreated and cruelly killed, mostly just neglected.  There are hundreds of strays - some of which used to be people's pets that were abandoned, and others feral animals. It's not quite as drastic as it used to be when I first visited Greece in the late '70's, but it's still a serious concern.  Fortunately now there are some organizations and private persons who make it their job to help these animals get fed, find homes, be spayed and if necessary find medical help.  Vets are brought in from elsewhere such as England to treat them and many private people have taken it upon themselves to feed the strays.

You can see on the Facebook groups that there are some organizations in Greece listed.  When I was on Samos I picked up a brochure about an animal rescue station there where you could volunteer and adopt animals. And there is the Hellenic Humane Society.

One of my very first published stories, written in 1980 was about the cats of Athens.  Later, the story was republished in the RSPCA magazine in England when the British Humane Society began working with the Hellenic Humane Society to do something about the strays.  There has been some improvement, but the fact that people here let their dogs roam free while they go on holidays so the packs of dogs roam the streets killing defenseless little kitty cats is one of the big problems.  I've also see dogs kept on roof-tops with no shade and likely little water.  And in the villages it is no surprise to see a dog chained on a very short leash out in the hot sun.  This used to disturb me no end when I lived in Lala.

It used to be they kept animals in pitiful conditions in the National Gardens too. When I lived her in the '80's there was one old lion in a small cage, no foliage, just cement and usually no food and little water. It was so disturbing to me I couldn't bear to walk by it.  Eventually, not that long ago, someone from England bought the lion and took it away to better accommodations.  And I'm not sure they still keep animals there. I can't bear to look as it usually upsets me to see the bleak conditions they are kept in.
My friend Christina's cats were rescued from the street
The lovely cat Carol keeps was rescued from the National Gardens.  And my friend Christian has several rescue cats plus one nice old dog, Mangus, who lives part time on Philopappou Hill.  Those dogs are checked by vets, fed and tagged.  You see a lot of them around town. Most of them were people's pets and are friendly fellows.   It's good to know there are some people here who really care what happens to the animals.

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