Stray animals are an inextricable element of our city and the Municipal Authority is determined to protect them. The City of Athens is one of the few municipalities in the country which deals with the stray animal phenomenon by implementing specific measures which involve substantial financial and human resources.
In 2003 the City of Athens established a special section which implements a stray protection programme. The programme's philosophy in no case supports the sheltering or euthanisation of animals. The goal is to stabilize and document the number of strays by implementing a sterilisation and tagging programme , and safeguard their survival through a programme involving veterinary care, vaccination and parasite control for all animals on the street, in addition to a food provision scheme. The City of Athens stray protection programme also seeks to raise public awareness on issues relating to the protection of stray animals. These actions aim to educate, inform and encourage citizens to adopt stray animals.
The results of the Municipality's stray protection programme are not insignificant. When the programme was introduced, more than 2,000 stray animals received the necessary veterinary care and were placed in the programme. Also, citizens adopted more than 400 stray animals that were part of the City of Athens programme, offering them human warmth.
The basic components of the City of Athens programme comprise collection, documentation, tagging, vaccination, sterilization, parasite control, veterinary care and, finally, adoption or the return of stray animals to the original environment from where they were collected. The actions of the municipality are in accordance with LAW 3170/03 on companion animals, stray or otherwise.
Three specially-equipped municipal teams staffed by trained personnel carry out the collection of stray animals and transport them to collaborating veterinary practices. The teams are equipped with specially-adapted vehicles bearing the Municipal insignia and ensure that animals are carefully and safely transferred to veterinary practices.
Vaccination, Sterilisation and Parasite Control
Animals which are collected are transported to small animal veterinary clinics which cooperate with the City of Athens. At the 16 collaborating veterinary clinics (which are located within the Municipality's administrative boundaries and operated by members of the Attica Veterinary Society for Small Animals), the animals undergo parasite control, vaccination and sterilization and receive all necessary veterinary care.
Documentation and Tagging
Stray animals incorporated into the programme are tagged with a tattoo on the inside of their left ear listing City of Athens initials and a serial number. Each animal bears a collar with a disc stating: "City of Athens - Vaccinated - Sterilised" and listing the tattoo serial number. Depending on the animal's gender, the disc is either blue or red. As the tattoo fades with time, the electronic tagging of animals is considered necessary. Electronic tagging involves the insertion of a microchip which bears a unique, 16-digit identification and recognition code. All three forms of tagging are harmless and do not trouble the animal. All information on animals included in the programme is listed in a digital database maintained by the City of Athens.
Following the provision of necessary veterinary care at collaborating veterinary clinics, all animals which need recuperation or further care are transferred to a special property rented by the City of Athens located in Markopoulo, Attica. Each animal remains there, in a personal dog house, under constant veterinary supervision until it fully recuperates. Animals suffering from incurable diseases also remain at the site until their natural death.
Adoption - Return to Habitat
Following their full recovery, the animals - now healthy, sterilized, vaccinated and free of parasites - are returned to the original habitat from where they were collected or made available to interested parties for adoption.
Adoption of stray animals
The procedure involved in adopting a stray dog is simple and efficient. In order to adopt a stray animal, citizens need only submit a simple adoption application, statutory declaration and duplicate of their state identification card. Applicants can choose their pet via the City's database which contains all of the stray animal's details (photograph, serial number tag, medical history etc) or visit the stray lodgings at Markopoulo, Attica on Saturdays from 09:00 - 14:00.
It should be noted that stray animals which are made available for adoption enjoy excellent health as certified by a medical exam and blood tests. Individuals interested in adopting an animals can telephone 210 5278014, 210 5278009, 1595 (Citizens Helpline) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizen awareness of stray animals
As part of its efforts to deal with the stray animal phenomenon, the City of Athens calls on the active participation of all citizens. If you locate a stray animal which is ill, injured or not wearing a collar with a disc which reads: "City of Athens - Vaccinated - Sterilised" and listing a tattoo serial number, phone 210 5278014, 210 5278009, 1595 (Citizens Helpline) or send an e-mail to email@example.com. The case will be recorded so that City services can act accordingly. It is important for all stray animals to be sterilized in order to minimize their population size, enjoy good health, be vaccinated and free of parasites to ensure their survival and also safeguard public health.
Information and Public Awareness Campaign
The City of Athens considers public awareness-raising on the stray animal programme to be of prime importance so as to ensure citizen involvement and accomplish the goals set by the scheme. The information and public awareness campaign aims to achieve the following key aims:
Within the framework of this campaign, the City of Athens has published two information pamphlets and a poster, staged an exhibition hosting animal welfare societies on World Animal Day, and each year participates in the annual DIANA exposition. It is also considering the organization of special seminars and events to inform the public, school community and senior citizens.
It should also be noted that an animal lovers' network has been created with the aim of raising awareness, informing and promoting the adoption of stray animals. The involvement of each citizen individually and the population as a whole can contribute significantly to the protection of stray animals.