Proposals for draft legislation to tackle Athens’s stray problem, submitted to the Agriculture Ministry by animal welfare groups on Monday, call for greater state care for stray animals and more responsibility on the shoulders of pet owners, the Greek Animal Welfare Association said yesterday. Among the proposals, handed over to ministry officials by representatives from a consortium of 35 animal welfare groups, was that the State oversee the electronic registration of all domestic pets, that it invest more money in animal welfare, and that it crack down on those who abuse or exterminate animals. The new law should allow pets to be kept in all rented apartments irrespective of existing regulations in different residences, the welfare groups told state officials, but insisted that there should be no charge for pet ownership, as current legislation proposes. To clear Athens’s streets of stray dogs and cats ahead of the 2004 Olympics, it was agreed that volunteers would work with animal welfare groups in collecting the animals, which the groups would accommodate at their shelters wherever possible. The animals would be released back to their old haunts after the completion of the Games. The protection of animals from abuse and torture is of paramount concern to the groups, who insist that those who misuse animals (in dog fights for example) or who kill them should be sentenced to one year in jail, without the option of paying off their term. But the groups are also concerned that the State take action to make animal welfare integral to society. Another proposal foresees the establishment of animal sterilization centers – to be jointly run by municipal authorities and welfare groups – as well as extra state funding for the employment of inspectors to check welfare standards at animal shelters. The establishment of new shelters and kennels should be banned, the groups said. Education on the proper treatment of animals should begin in school, according to another proposal which foresees the launch of an educational program in all schools.