OPINION

Animal abuse drives tourists away

JOSEPH KUNG – Lucerne, Switzerland Greece is many Swiss people’s favorite holiday destination. They appreciate the world of the Greek Islands’ charming landscape, the multifarious testimonies to a magnificent past, the cheerful and hospitable locals, the Mediterranean cuisine, good wines etc. Unfortunately, when traveling in Greece, one is quite often surprised and disappointed to see how the Greeks treat animals and the environment. The starving stray cats and dogs are (regrettably) almost part and parcel of the holiday idyll. Various animal protection organizations are trying to solve the problem by catching, moving and castrating them. The only thing that would help would probably be to reduce the number of animals as humanely as possible. Another sad story is how dogs are kept tied up on a short lead or chain and left to their fate all day and night without any space to move about in. They then generally sleep in the daytime as they have nothing to do, and howl for hours on end at night to the annoyance of neighbors and tourists. Hardly any otherwise quiet area is spared this. This spring at a lighthouse on the southern tip of the Mani peninsula, we saw a dog tied up on a short lead out in the blazing sun, although nobody was to be seen at the lighthouse keeper’s house or at the lighthouse itself in the daytime. The keeper is probably only around at night, if at all; the house’s shutters were closed at any rate. It is relatively rare to catch sight of cows in Greece. When one does see them, it is unfortunately a shocking sight. Their legs are tied together and/or their heads to their legs, obviously so they cannot escape, and this in enclosed paddocks where it is totally impossible for them to flee anyway. This means the animals cannot move at all in the blazing sun. From what we were told this is, however, common practice among Greek farmers. Donkeys, goats and sheep do not receive better treatment, regrettably. These and similar images can sour the pleasure of a holiday in Greece. There are those who talk of systematically boycotting Greece as a holiday destination until such time as these abuses stop. In my view, it would be better to make the animal owners aware of these problems, as they patently do not know what they are doing to these animals. The Greek population (the farmers in particular, of course) should therefore be made aware in all suitable media and schools of this deplorable state of affairs. Only with targeted, repeated information on the spot can the progress that is urgently required be made. The lament of an irate visitor DR EMILIO SAILEZ – Florida, USA This is my third visit to Greece in the past seven years. I am sad to say that it will be my last. I am leaving today, ahead of my scheduled departure for Croatia and later Turkey. My experiences here will not go unnoticed as I intend to discourage people from visiting this lovely country until such time as its people decide to join the civilized world. I have met with innumerable inhospitable situations, the last of which was the inability to travel to the islands due to strikes. This is not the first time but it certainly will be the last. During my last trip, we could not visit the Acropolis because of strikes. Apart from that, the city itself is unwelcoming and hostile to pedestrians. The sidewalks are traveled by mopeds and motorcycles and, if they are not, they are covered by street vendors of all sorts. The Omonia Square area ought to be off-limits to visitors. Filth is everywhere and no wall has been spared of unsightly graffiti or advertising posters. Is this what you inherited from Pheidias, Iktinos and Callicrates? A veritable ghetto. A shame and pity. A gorgeous country inhabited by unpatriotic vandals, assorted barbarians and uncivilized mobs. This is nowhere we wish to spend an extended visit. Greeks need to pull their socks up ELENI LAMBIS – Australia I am a Greek, living in Australia. I love your newspaper and when I am in Greece on holiday really enjoy buying it. When I am in Australia, I read it online. I have followed the articles on the Greek crisis. The focus is always on reiterating the doom and gloom over and over, and over, and over again. STAMATA. Greece has at its core a civilization that has lasted the ages. Unite as people, stop pointing the finger and looking to blame others. You can and will come out of this black hole if you shift your focus from constantly going over the negatives. It pains me to see the beauty and opportunity that is Greece being constantly bashed over the head, not only by the international community, which is jealous of it’s natural beauty/culture etc, but by its own people. Your journalist [Nikos Konstandaras, on June 7] says «everyone remains frozen, waiting for the fall, trapped between the lost familiarity of the past and the heavy clouds of the future.» If you all see the future as «heavy clouds,» then of course Greece will remain in darkness forever and the young will have no drive to build a new Greece. Guide each other, put that same heart and soul you put in to bouzouki nights into rebuilding your future. There is no easy way out, it’s going to be hard! If anyone can do it, it’s the Greeks. You got rid of the Turks after 400 years didn’t you?