08/12/04 Boycott of Olympics in Greece

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Animal Friends protests in front of Greek embassy: Greece wins Olympic golden medal for shame!

On the occasion of mass slaughter of stray dogs and cats in Athens because of the oncoming Olympics, Animal Friends will hold a peaceful demonstration in front of Greek embassy in Zagreb, Opaticka ulica 12.

With the protest that will take place on Thursday, August 12, 2004, at noon, Animal Friends joins the international demonstrations held this week in front of Greek embassies in New York, Barcelona and other cities in Spain. This way we support Welfare for Animals in Greece (WAG) organization and express our disagreement with unscrupulous, inhumane and cruel behavior of Greek authorities.

Greece has resorted to poisoning as a cheap clean up operation of the large numbers of stray dogs and cats which are looked upon as vermin or street rats. The poison used can be anything from strychnine and rat poison to farm pesticides and herbicides; even crushed glass placed in raw meat. Other animals were hanged by the neck, shot or run over by cars and left on the road to die.

We remind you that more than twenty organizations and thousands of individuals from Australia to US for more than a year lobby for savior of animals of Athens. Firm condemnation of Greek "policy of beautifying of the Olympics" was recently expressed by some of the greatest world organizations such as International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), In Defense of Animals (IDA), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPCA), Humane Society International and Human Society of the United States.

Some of Olympic athletes raised their voices as well. Thus, Olympic gold medal-winning Canadian wrestler Daniel Igali said, "Sporting organizations can and should influence the ills in society."

Pressured by world organization, Greek government desperately tries to make pitiful excuses to justify barbaric treatment of stray animals in Greece during past year. Croatia and the rest of the world can't miss this unique opportunity to fight for permanent solution to stop terrorism over animals of Greece and to solve problem of great number of stray dogs and cats using humane methods as the rest of civilized world.

After protest letters we sent on Monday, August 9, to Greek embassies in 39 countries and to Greek authorities, representatives of our organization will personally deliver protest letter to Greek ambassador in Croatia.

A letter of protest

H. E. Mr. Dimitris Vidouris, Ambassador
Opaticka 12
10000 Zagreb

August 12, 2004

Your Excellency,

Animal Friends' leadership and its 1,300 members are shocked and horrified by the reports, pictures and the video footage of about eighty percent of the abandoned dogs and cats of Athens and the Greater Attika that have been "disposed of" in a cruel and systematic manner.

Roughly 80% of the 30,000 to 50,000 abandoned dogs in Athens are already dead - victims of deliberate poisoning, abuse and neglect - as government officials, subcontracted welfare agencies, and the 2004 Athens Organizing Committee neaten the streets for a sleek world reception. Carcasses tossed into trashcans belie the government's denial. Images of animals rotting alive in shelters linger, despite the unveiling of a "showcase shelter" to greet the press.

While elected officials overlook anti-cruelty laws and assume no responsibility for the country's vanishing dogs, Greek and international media outlets continue to expose heartbreaking portraits. Witnesses describe the routine roundup of dead and dying animals in garbage trucks. Starving dogs and cats, often baited with strychnine-laced meat known as fola ("poison balls"), foam at the mouth, convulse and suffer unbearably before they die.

On August 4, 22 poisoned dogs were found close to the Port of Piraeus, the gateway to Athens. Eighty more dead dogs were allegedly discovered in Saronida, also near Athens. We understand Athens maintains just one municipal shelter, along with several privately owned, rundown facilities. Although the Deputy Mayor of Athens, Tonia Kanellopoulou, announced plans to gather, sterilize and re-home the city's strays, just one municipality appears to have implemented the new law.

Greece's unprecedented inhumanity towards dogs, cats and livestock has become a national shame and there is absolutely no excuse to justify the reality of thousands of animals' tortured destruction for cosmetic reasons.

As the world now focuses its lens on Athens, Greece's desperate attempts to conceal this slaughter which happened because of the Olympic Games must not stand unchallenged. For, Greece knew years ago that Olympics 2004 will eventually happen and Greece/Athens knew that it had a strays issue in the streets of Athens. Therefore, Greece and Athens had lots of time to solve the problem of strays in a more humane and dignified way than they did.

In this regard, we kindly urge you to intercede with the Greek government for the welfare of animals in your country. We will continue to encourage everyone we know to join us in a boycott of Greek travel and commerce - until visible strides are made to enforce existing animal welfare laws and institute humane reforms.

We demand an immediate halt to abuse, neglect and the mass poisoning of Greek dogs throughout the Olympic venues and beyond, and we hope the negative publicity serves as a wake-up call for Greece to raise its standard of animal welfare with modern shelters that maintain veterinary supervision, mandatory spay/neuter/vaccination, microchip identification, and responsible policies for re-homing animals.

Respectfully yours,

Luka Oman
Animal Friends




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