Miserable Hounds – Greece’s Suffering Hunting Dogs

Miserable, sad and neglected, Greece’s hunting dogs are an open, bleeding would in Animal Welfare. Shelters are packed with emaciated and sick hounds. Many of them live a life of misery and are being abandoned per hundreds every year.





Life Of A Hunting Dog In Greece

The life of most hunting dogs here is a miserable and sad one. First of all, they are never treated as pets, never share their owners’ home and family life and rarely get any exercise when it’s not hunting season.  Most of them live chained or locked up somewhere in a field in rural Greece, as far from the nearby town or village. If their owner keeps them in the city, they are kept in the roofs of the building – literally the roof. This is where their home, their toilet and their whole life is. In order to transport them, hunters use a box attached on the outside of the car’s back. Although illegal to transport them this way, the citizens never intervene, nor does the police.

they are never treated as pets, never share their owners’ home and family life and rarely get any exercise when it’s not hunting season.

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Daphne, rescued by Save a Greek Stray. Today she is a healthy, happy dog (and one of my favorite girls!)

Health Issues

Greece is a country where the sun always shines and where parasites thrive due to the warm weather. The life of a dog that lives outdoors is in constant danger from a number of diseases caused by parasites, such as leishmaniasis (transmitted by the sandfly) and ehrichia (by ticks). Both diseases can be fatal if left untreated. Hunting dogs living in such conditions risk being infected easier than pet dogs, and since many of them do not receive their monthly anti-parasitic treatments, are infected. Almost every hunting dog we rescue in sick, with ehrichia and leishmaniasis being the top diseases that volunteers have to treat. Some hunting dogs are rescued too late, resulting in them dying from diseases that could be easily treated.

Hunting dogs living in such conditions risk being infected easier than other pet dogs

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Nelson, a purebred pointer, rescued by Save a Greek Stray

Abandonment

Hunting dogs are abandoned every day, for a number of reasons:

  1. Lacking hunting skills.

Once hunters realize that one of their dogs is not the hound he thought he was (gun shy, disobedient etc), their easy way is to simply drive somewhere, open their car door and abandon the animal in the middle of nowhere. This is what probably happened to Apollo, my baby, who I found one day frightened and confused.

 

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Tool, abandoned when he got too old. Rescued by ZEIL.

Elderly dogs are disposed off or abandoned because they are seen as useless and as an unnecessary expense

  1. Getting sick

Once a hunting dog gets sick (most of them from the diseases mentioned above) it is seen as an unnecessary expense. Most hunters are not willing to any for any treatment. Their way out from caring for a dog that got sick (a dog that got sick due to lack of proper care from them) is abandoning the animal. They save money and move on to the next healthy dog.

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Emily, rescued by Save a Greek Stray. Advanced ehrichia had caused her hematocrit drop so low that she needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately she did not make it.
  1. Getting old

Once a dog gets old, it needs all the care it can get. And proper care for an elderly hound is not a hunter’s priority. Elderly dogs are disposed off or abandoned because they are seen as useless and as an unnecessary expense – like a sick dog. This is what happened to Tool.

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Charlie, rescued by Save a Greek Stray. He suffered from leishmaniasis and fought to stay alive for months. He did not make it.

Maintaining a dog is an expense. Disposing off the dog makes life a bit more affordable

  1. The hunter hunts no more

Some hunters get old, some get sick, some simply can’t or won’t hunt anymore. Some are struck by the economic crisis and try to cut back expenses. Maintaining a dog is an expense. Disposing off the dog makes life a bit more affordable. This is what happened to Duke,whose owner had got old, could not go hunting anymore, so Duke was chained and left without food or water so that he’d die and be easier to be disposed off.

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Pablo, an Epaniel Breton rescued by Save a Greek Stray. When he was first spotted, volunteers believed he was diseased.
  1. Getting lost

Many might argue that, but I have heard that personally from an experienced hunter. He simply told me to my face that if a hunting dog is lost during hunting, it is not a good hunting tool. So he is never collected from the mountain. That particular person described how he could hear his dog barking from miles away on a mountain where they had been hunting. He realized that the dog was lost and barking was its way of calling for him. He simply left and abandoned the dog alone, in the middle of nowhere to bark until…

if a hunting dog is lost during hunting, it is not a good hunting tool. So he is never collected from the mountain.

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One great loss. Elliot, a purebred pointer, rescued by Save a Greek Stray. His hunger had driven him to eat anything, including a big piece of hard fabric, that tore his intestine apart. He did not survive the surgery.

Why Are Most Rescued Hounds Found So Emaciated?

I am not sure, but I have a theory. Hunting dogs are loyal animals. Too loyal. Hunters usually take the car, drive to the mountain with the dog and let him loose up there. Hounds might wander around or even get lost, but eventually they will come back to that first place where they were let loose, to the place where their owners car was parked. Some hunters I know wait for their dogs to come back, if they are lost. They might wait for days.

Hounds might wander around or even get lost, but eventually they will come back to that first place where they were let loose

I remember once, back in my hometown, the whole village was taking turns for days, driving to the nearby  mountain and bringing food and water to a friend who had lost his dogs during hunting. He waited for them in the car, where he knew they’d return. And they did.

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Emil, an English Setter rescued by Save a Greek Stray.

Others, instead of waiting, leave their jacket and some water to the place where they last saw the dogs and come back to look for them the next day. Usually, they come back to find the dogs sleeping on their jackets.

By the time they make it back, they have been without food or water for days or even weeks. So they starve because they are loyal.

So yes there are some good people out there. And then there are some others. The ones that won’t wait for the dog to come back, nor will go look for them the following day. But the dogs do return to that same spot where they last saw their owner, where they were let loose. They return and they wait. And wait. And wait. I have no idea how long are those loving animals willing to wait for their owner. I guess that eventually the hunger, the cold and the desperation forces them to make it back to civilization. By the time they make it back, they have been without food or water for days or even weeks. So they starve because they are loyal. Because they wait.

Abandoned hunting dogs in Greece range from purebred Pointers and Setters to mix breed Greek hounds, like my Apollo. Some are rescued early enough, and some not. All of them are loyal, loving and tender, all of them make excellent house pets for their new owners, all of them have a sad story to tell.



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7 thoughts on “Miserable Hounds – Greece’s Suffering Hunting Dogs”

  1. I have rescued 3 hunting dogs from Greece and have been party to pretty much every abuse that this country dishes out to them (and seemingly pretty much any dog / animal). They are hit, kicked, dragged behind cars, hung, starved, taunted, left with no water, isolated in dark sheds or buildings, chained and deprived of ANY comfort in their lives. There are many fantastic Greek volunteers who do what they can but this is and has always been an epidemic that is not going away. Witnesses do not report to the police and if they do the police often do not take action (in my experience). Disgraceful country and culture

    1. This is exactly what happens. It is very sad and as much as we try it feels like we’re just doing nothing. The recent law is very strict and specific about a pets well being and animal abuse, but it is rarely enforced, because nobody reports anyone (and even if they are willing to do it, they wouldn’t know where to begin and who to report first) and because the police is rarely helpful. In fact, there have been cases of severe animal abuse where the police officers actually tried to cover it up or convince the eye witnesses not to press charges. In some cases the abusers are sentenced. But generally, strays are poisoned regularly, too many dogs spend their lives chained on locked up and we are trying our best to clean up after all the mess. :/

  2. We found a puppy [spitting image of Nelson] left under a rubbish bin & the vet thought
    about 4 weeks old. He is now 18 months old & a pleasure to own. A more loving faithful
    dog we could not wish for.

  3. I applaud and support all those wonderful people who help and give homes to these dogs. The next few weeks will see many strays shot, poisoned, hung etc before the tourists arrive. 25 remains of such dogs found within square mile of where I lived in my first year walking my beloved Great Dane. Would never have taken him if I’d known.Attacked eventually by 3 loose dogs one day he never walked again properly but worse my dog changed.
    Died too young.

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