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Greek Activists Work to Help Animals During COVID-19 Pandemic

In Greece, there was a two-month lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Greek animal protection organization Panhellic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation (PFPO) made every effort to reduce the consequences of the lockdown for animals.

Following our federation’s appeal for help, Mars, Royal Canin, Purina and Ellinika Market donated about 3 tons of food. Thus, we tackled the problem of feeding strays in the region of Athens as well as in other parts of the country. It should be stated that the problem was more serious in Athens.

Mrs. Bobolaki (PFPO’s President) made a great effort within the two month quarantine. She urged and put pressure on Greek municipal authorities through social media on a daily basis. As a result of her actions, many municipalities assisted animal welfare organizations and volunteers with providing food for stray cats and dogs. Her daily posts on Facebook created a kind of competition between mayors, which resulted in more food donated each day.

PFPO contacted Mr. Spyridon Kritas, Professor of the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who delivered the opinion that animals cannot spread the virus or be affected by it. His statement on coronavirus and animals was published on our site, which helped prevent a potential increase in abandoned pets. His scientific advice was republished on other websites disseminated to the public. [Editor’s note: our knowledge of how COVID-19 affects animals is still evolving. For up-to-date information, read the CDC’s page on COVID-19 and animals.]

Before the start of the lockdown, PFPO sent a letter to the Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection and Chief of Hellenic Police to request a special permit for volunteers who take care of stray animals.

A stray dog sleeps in Paralia, Greece, before the lockdown. Image credit Ivan Radic, CC BY-SA 2.0.

On the 17th of March, PFPO sent another letter to Deputy Interior Minister Mr. Th. Livanios. We requested that he direct municipal authorities to provide food for strays in view of the expected lockdown. Mr. Livanios honored this request. 

A letter was sent to the Greek Prime Minister, Ministers of the Greek government and all parliamentary parties requesting that people be allowed to feed strays outside their city boundaries. Unfortunately, this attempt was unsuccessful, which had adverse effects on animals.

Finally, informative articles on coronavirus were published on PFPO’s site, including guidelines to help animals and mitigate the effects on them of COVID-19. We also gave media interviews regarding the municipal authorities that did not fulfill their obligations to animals.