Ladies and tramps: Campaign for sterilization of stray dogs

People’s relations with animals go from one extreme to another. On the one hand are the strays, a large population which in Attica alone is estimated at over 60,000, and as many as 300,000 across the whole country, a major problem in view of the 2004 Olympics and one which the Agriculture Ministry is trying to solve by means of a bill. At the other end of the spectrum are the lucky pets who live like royalty, eating gourmet food and being taken to beauty parlors or dressed in designer clothes. When the Agriculture Ministry bill is passed, anyone found abandoning a pet on the street will pay a hefty fine. Even if not caught in the act, the owner will be traced if the dog is wearing an ID microchip implant in its skin. The St Francis of Assisi Animal Shelter is making available a 6,000 square meter site with a half-finished building in Attica to any organization willing to set up an animal sterilization center to keep down the rapidly growing stray population. The shelter is holding a Christmas bazaar this weekend in Victoria Square, central Athens, to raise funds for the some 300 dogs it cares for on the site. According to the Agriculture Ministry, a 1,467,350-euro program to set up shelters has not been carried out because of a lack of interest on the part of local government. As for the pampered others, sales of quality pet food are up 15-30 percent supermarkets, even after prices were increased. A bag of dog biscuits cost up to 2.50 euros, while a poodle’s sweater can cost more than a woman’s blouse.

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