The cat and the tip of the iceberg

The cat and the tip of the iceberg

Who knows how long he’d been standing in the middle of that Kythera field, with little food and water, in unbearable pain as the small halter bit into his flesh. A resident on the island decided to file a report and the donkey’s owner was arrested and released. No order to seize the animal was issued and the donkey disappeared from the spot a few days later. The woman who had filed the complaint no longer knows if he’s OK nor can she tend to his wound.

A cat was fighting for its life in a veterinary clinic in Piraeus after being rescued by volunteers from a culvert. He was paralyzed, shot with an air-gun – a popular form of target practice for certain bullies. And in Ilia in the Peloponnese, a witness who reported a local farmer for crushing nine puppies to death with his mower said he had been advised by the police not to press charges.

These are but some of the stories of animal abuse that have featured in the Greek press in the past few days. Together, of course, with the one about the man in Evia who kicked a stray cate into the sea, prompting the personal intervention of Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos. Was his intervention necessary? And why this particular incident? Was it because of the furor on social media? And who did it benefit, apart from the minister himself, to confirm his pro-animal credentials?

Some 4,500 crimes against animals are reported each year, yet less than a fifth lead to an arrest or even a charge sheet being drawn up. Sure, laws against animal abuse are now stricter, but they’re not being enforced. And, even more importantly, little is being done to change the public mentality toward violence, which so often starts with the weakest link: animals.

Politics cannot be exercised via social media, nor can the state machine only kick into gear when a politician steps in. As a friend of mine once said, the state is like a child: If you keep tying its shoelaces, it will never learn to do it itself.

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