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Venereal disease, tar pits, poisonings plague ‘ghost’ dogs in Greek town

Aspropyrgos, an Industrial town near Athens, Greece is the scene for suffering by hundreds of homeless dogs, says rescuer
Aspropyrgos, an Industrial town near Athens, Greece is the scene for suffering by hundreds of homeless dogs, says rescuer
The Ghosts of Aspropyrgos rescue group

The name of the place, Aspropyrgos, or “White Tower,” conjures images of something noble, pure, and pretty. Indeed, a tall white clock tower stands watch over the Greek industrial community 20 kilometers northwest of Athens.

Takis, suffering from a severe veneral disease (see slideshow), receives treatment through The Ghosts of Aspropyrgos rescue group
The Ghosts of Aspropyrogos rescue group

But certain other images to be found in the city—images engraved on the hearts and minds of a small group of animal rescuers volunteering there—are not at all noble or pure, and they’re certainly not pretty.

One of the group’s members, Gianna [surname withheld by request], told Animal Policy Examiner that hundreds of abandoned dogs struggle and often fail to survive dangerous conditions, diseases, and even deliberate poisonings by locals who want them gone.

Some of them get fatally trapped in tar pits left over from an abandoned factory, Gianna reported. Many are afflicted by a painful and disfiguring disease called “canine transmissible venereal tumor.” The dogs’ countless other ailments include mange, ehrlichia, distemper, and leishmaniasis.

Hundreds of puppies are born every year to ill, starving parents. Many of those puppies as well as adults perish. They die hungry, thirsty, untreated and unwanted.

Volunteers donate their time and go into debt

Gianna said that she and up to 30 other members of a group named “The Ghosts of Aspropyrgos”—referring to the wraith-like appearance of many of the dogs—have devoted thousands of hours of their time and donated 6,000 euros [about $7,200] to care for, protect, spay/neuter, and re-home as many of the area’s dogs as they can.

They are in debt for another 5,500 euros [about $6,700], she said. A few veterinarians have pitched in to assist the group with low-cost services.

Group pleads with authorities for help

Under a new law passed by the Greek Parliament in February, municipalities are required to create shelters where homeless animals will be held temporarily while they are vaccinated, spayed or neutered, microchipped, and treated for illnesses before they are released back out on the streets.

The Aspropyrgos group members have asked local municipal authorities to care for the dogs as is required under the new welfare law.

“We have met with Vice Mayor Stylianos Almpantis twice,” said Gianna. “The first time he said that he had no idea about this animal welfare act. The second time he said that he would try to find some funding for the strays, so that they could stay in an animal hotel in the area—about four euros per day [$4.80] for every animal. Also that he would provide a car and a driver for us to use in order to collect sick, injured animals, or animals to be spayed/neutered. But nothing has happened.”

Tomorrow the group plans to meet with Vice Mayor Almpantis again, said Gianna. Manthos Armpelias will join them as a representative of the Panhellenic Coordination Committee of Animal Welfare Associations and the Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation. Representatives from other local animal welfare groups and a reporter from Proto Thema newspaper will also attend.

“The problem with this new law is that it allows the municipalities two years to get prepared,” said Gianna. “The dogs need help now.”

Please note: Animal Policy Examiner will ask Aspropyrgos Mayor Nikolaos Meletiou and Vice Mayor Almpantis to comment at their earliest convenience for a follow-up article presenting their points of view.

Please visit this page again soon for more articles on "The Ghosts of Aspropyrgos.”

Donations to The Ghosts of Aspropyrgos rescue group may be made through its ChipIn.

Readers wishing to courteously express opinions may contact Aspropyrgos municipal authorities as follows:

Mayor Nikolaos Meletiou, Email: grafeiodimarxou@aspropyrgos.gr

Vice Mayor Stylianos Almpantis, Tel. 213 2006408 or 213 2006407, Email: almpantis@tee.gr

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