Strays to leave the streets

Stray dogs be warned – it’s cleanup time for Greece’s towns and cities, particularly Athens, in view of next year’s Olympic Games. A new bill announced this week providing for the collection and registration of all strays, along with fines for those who abandon or mistreat animals, is to be tabled in Parliament next week. Local government bodies implementing the law will be funded by income from fines and from the Agriculture Ministry, now that plans for a fee for pet owners have been scrapped due to vociferous opposition. The bill is aimed at getting the city cleared of strays by the time the Olympics come around, but also at dealing with what has become a considerable problem. Once the bill becomes law, it will be illegal to abandon an animal. Those who violate the law will be subject to fines ranging from 400 to 2,400 euros. Similar fines will be imposed on owners who do not ensure that their dog’s puppies are found homes or who allow their dogs to roam unsupervised. People running dogfights or owners whose animals cause bodily harm to people or other animals will be subject to fines of up to 5,000 euros. Compulsory tagging All dog owners will be required to register and have their pets tagged by a veterinary surgeon before the pets are four months old. The method of tagging will be determined by ministerial decree within three months of the date the law is passed. Owners themselves must meet these costs. The purpose is to eventually reduce the number of strays on the city streets, estimated to number about 300,000. Specially trained local government teams will be required to collect all strays and take them to animal refuges that are required to meet certain specifications. Each animal, if judged to be healthy, will be neutered and kept until a home is found for it. Some of the animals may be returned to the place where they were picked up if these areas are not near hospitals, schools, airports or main roads.