Source: Herald Sun 2/24/02
HELENA SMITH in ATHENS:
Animal lovers are up in arms over claims the Greek
Government is using poison to rid the country of an estimated 200,000
Animal welfare groups fear the Government, in a bid to
clean up the streets of Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games, is laying
poison through the streets.
The controversy erupted as it emerged Chinese students
on Cyprus have been eating stray dogs. Arguing that canine cuisine is a
delicacy, the students this week admitted snatching scores of dogs from
the streets in a bid to spice up their diet.
The poison claims emerged after reports from tourists
enraged at the sight of what appeared to be officials laying bait.
"Every country has problems with strays, but Greece is
much worse," said Joy Leney, of the London-based World Society of the
Protection of Animals (WSPA). "What is happening there is very, very
worrying," she said. "Humane controls are called for, not poisoning,
shooting and clubbing. "We are very afraid the situation will worsen in
the run-up to the 2004 Olympic Games."
Concern at the fate of the strays -- estimated at 50,000
in Athens alone -- has prompted animal welfare agencies to call for
legislation for the registration of animals with electronic microchips
and fines for owners of abandoned pets.
"Greece has drafted legislation, but it's very thin on
specifics," said Ms Leney, who visited Athens with a WSPA team this
month. Greeks routinely kill unwanted cats and dogs by lacing pet food
with pesticides. In rural areas, where attitudes to animals are even
harsher, dogs are frequently hung from trees and power poles and old
donkeys thrown from cliffs.
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