Proposed legislation to protect animals in Greece but mandatory neutering not well received

Yvonne O'Halloran

Greece is no stranger to cases of horrific animal abuse. As such, the Southeastern European country has periodically been taken to task by animal rights activists. Specifically, in December, more than 140 individuals and animal rights groups called on the government to actually do something about the atrocities. Stray dogs and cats are victims of abuse the most, with an estimate of 2 million street cats and dogs just in Athens.

In the past year, the country has finally begun to do something about the cruelty in the form of an animal reform bill.

“It is time for Greece to go forward with courageous steps for the protection of our little friends,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis shared in a tweet when discussing the bill. “Animal protection is a matter of civilisation.”

The legislation will make animal abuse a felony, providing a “comprehensive supervisory framework” to ensure more humane treatment towards animals. So why are citizens so bothered by the proposed bill? It all comes down to mandatory neutering.

The bill first came under fire in May when stray animals were frequently the victims of violent attacks. At the same time, the government stated increased fines for animal abuse would be coming.

While over 40 animal welfare associations have declared their support for the bill, such as Animal Welfare Karpathos, others haven’t been so kind. In Greece, neutering appears to be more than just a procedure; it’s about manhood: “Men in this country are especially opposed because they equate sterilisation with denuding animals of their manhood,” according to Efi Tsekmesoglou at of the Association of Animal Protection in Crete.

Of course, there are other complaints. Although the bill was created to specifically target the issue of stray animals in the country, breeders worry what mandatory neutering will mean for the ancient Greek pedigrees that continue to exist and thrive.

The law also cuts back on the ability of owners to have litters,” says the head of country’s sole club for amateur breeders Theodosis Papandreou, “which ultimately would mean the end of pedigrees that are unique here.”

Breeders believe the new bill will bring an end to the Cretan hound, Europe’s oldest dog, and other still-living canines found in ancient wall paintings, statues and vases.

While the proposed law is currently just under public consultation, the legislation will be put to vote in June.

Article written by Tessa Altman- United States

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