Dog day

I’ve been investigating the dog scene in Athens. There are large numbers of feral muts all over the city. They are not the scrawny looking strays you might normally expect to find in urban areas. No, they are great lumbering hounds that look pretty well cared for. Most wear collars and seem to be at ease with people. They can be seen wandering around all areas of the city during the day and night and often sleep wherever they choose during the hot days. I saw one pair that had decided to doss down in the gutter of one of the main roads around Syntagma Square. [ Imagine two dogs asleep in the road on Trafalgar Square and you get the picture ]. Reading around on the web, it seems that the stray ‘problem’ in Athens dates from around ten years ago when most of the municipal dog pounds throughout Greece closed due to fear of prosecution for mistreatment of animals. In 2004 with the Olympic Games approaching, the city decided that packs of dogs wandering the streets was not a good look and so they rounded them up, shipped them out of the city for a few weeks, fed and spruced them up. They were neutered and then returned to where they came from once the Games were over. Rumours abounded that large numbers had been poisoned but these were denied. I got the impression that the street dogs are like communal pets. People feed them and leave water out for them. They seem to be great characters and certainly do add an extra dimension to street life. I happen to like dogs and found it pretty charming to see them lounging around amidst the ruins or posing outside the parliament. I can see that some might feel differently but somehow the city would be the lesser without these doggy dudes. Following are a few photos I snapped on my travels. You can see over 600 similar shots here.

The Greek Animal Welfare Society [ ARGOS ] – has more information and an adopt a stray campaign.

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