What is a sick rescue puppy, it’s rescuers and a camera doing in the City Hall? Well, here’s the thing: Greece is most definitely corrupt, beaurocratic and nerve-racking. Every single day we have to fight for what should be taken for granted in any civilized country out there. Citizens keep being disappointed as the systems keeps us trapped in a vicious circle we can’t escape from.
When it comes to animal welfare, things are more ridiculous than ever. Greece is a country with a huge amount of stays, little to none support from the government and hundreds of charities based on volunteer work and donations, basically doing all the work. Any intervention or advice from authorities is basically an obstacle – people assigned to city halls as in charge of “the strays” are ridiculously ignorant, making our work even harder.
According to the Greek law (yes, there is such a thing) strays are every municipality’s responsibility. Basically, this means that they are supposed to care for them, neuter them and provide them with a temporary home. Are you laughing already? If you are Greek, I’m pretty sure you must be! All municipalities receive funds every year, and a certain amount of that money is supposed to be approved and granted for the strays.
It’s not as simple as it sounds. First of all, that amount is vague – each city hall decides how much to spent on strays, meaning hours and hours of beaurocratic meetings, stalling and little to none result. Given the fact that government employees are not experienced rescuers, some municipalities, if the money for strays is approved, work together with local charities, a.k.a we do all the hard work (rescue, transport, care for etc) and they pay for some of the expenses.
The money is never just handed over to us. Given that the amount of money is approved, the charity’s volunteers collect the strays and they are neutered or treated by a collaborating vet, which has been appointed by the municipality. Even a simple citizen can benefit from that program – if he finds a stray on the street, he can contact the person responsible and take the animal to that specific vet. It is normally a local vet, so that it makes things a lot easier for everyone. In some places, this practice has been working quite well – it all depends on the person appointed as in charge of course. In some other cases, it simply never happens.
Municipalities keep making excuses, humiliate the local volunteers and rescuers, making promises and nothing else. The money keeps being spent elsewhere every year (if it is spent on anything at all). In some cases actually, the municipality, instead of working with the local charities, fights against them, making our work even more difficult. You’re probably thinking that it’s because of the crisis, but it’s not that. The money is there, and a lot of it comes from the EU. The thing is that in Greece, anyone can do as they please, and if they are in the government, respecting the law means nothing at all.
Of course, there are municipalities that are rich and others that are poor. Glyfada is one of the richest. “The area, which is home to many of Greece’s millionaires, ministers and celebrities” according to Wikipedia, has also been called “Hellenic Hamptons”, or the “Beverly Hills of Greece” – I swear that’s true, just hit the link above! When it comes to strays, the City Hall of Glyfada has been doing everything in its power to stall things. The local charity of the area is SPAZ, one of the oldest and most active animal welfare organizations in Greece, with rescuers who have a 30 year experience.
SPAZ has been trying to push things so that money is approved and Glyfada forms a program for the strays. They’ve been given a lot of promises and zero help. As dogs keep being abandoned on the streets every day, stray cats roam the neighborhoods giving birth to dozens of kittens per year and adoptions are rare, the program is much needed, and frankly, rescuers are sick and tired of having to pay for everything themselves and constantly asking the public for donations – the same public whose taxes pay for the government employees salaries.
Two days ago, the puppy you see in the photos was rescued in Glyfada by SPAZ and it was time to make the person in charge of the strays in the City Hall come face to face with what he’s been doing (or not) the last couple of years. So, after a number of unanswered calls to the City Hall, instead of taking the puppy straight to a vet, we took him to the City Hall, demanding that the person in charge who is being paid for the stray non-existing program finds a solution.
What happened next was beyond ridiculous. The rescuers were told that he had contacted “someone” and that “someone” would be waiting for us “there”, where a kennel would be provided. Taking the puppy back in the car we drove “there”, and waited. “Someone” never showed up, and the employees “there” claimed to know nothing about the issue. We finally talked to “someone” on the phone, who insisted on knowing nothing about it and denied any help. Three hours had already passed, the animal was still waiting in the car and we couldn’t keep dragging it from one place to another anymore. He was taken to a private clinic, where he was examined and will spend at least one week receiving treatment. If you’re wondering who will be paying for the bill, once again it’s going to be us.
This is Greece 2016. This is what we rescuers have to deal with every day. This is some of the money wasted on funds that never serve their purpose- just some of it. I’m pretty sure there’s much more granted for projects that never even begin, but I’m here only to talk about what I care for, the animals.