CHANIA, Greece -- Another shocking episode of animal cruelty in Greece that has seen a number of incidents, the torture and killing of two stray puppies, has seen a Cretan man arrested based on DNA evidence, the first time it has been used in such a case.
The man was not identified under Greek privacy laws but was said to be a livestock breeder who animal rights activists knew about, said Kathimerini, and the crime will be treated as a misdemeanor because it occurred before new legislation was passed creating higher penalties for animal abuse for up to 10 years in jail.
The incident happened in Chania in August and police forensics teams said they tracked the suspect through DNA without elaborating on how it was done. He was fined 60,000 euros ($72,693.60) for the crime in which the puppies were skinned, their nails pulled out and then hung.
Speaking on SKAI TV, the President of the Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation, Natasa Bombolaki, who lives on Crete, thanked the police department “because all this time it treated the incident as a homicide.”
She said she was upset it won't be treated as a felony .“We will fight at least for the non-suspensive nature of the sentence,” she insisted, while saying she has received threats from the perpetrator.
Cruelty to animals, which has been treated lightly in Greece despite a proliferation of cases including killing, maiming and torture, became a felony with harsher penalties for abusers but the law wasn't changed until October.
That could even include jail time under a legislative amendment being drafted by the Agriculture Ministry of the New Democracy government after two especially horrific cases galvanized public outrage.
That included a videotaped incident in the neighborhood of Nikaia in Piraeus where a school teacher was seen repeatedly stabbing a dog in the stomach and chest while a neighbor beat it with a metal rod.
Anger was so strong that crowds gathered outside the teacher's house and screamed threats at him, disbelieving his claim the attack was done in self-defense despite the video showing the dog was essentially helpless.
In another case, on Crete, a 55-year-old man hung his dog from a tree and castrated it with a pair of pliers before passing tourists saw what was happening and stepped in to save the dog's life.
Agriculture Minister Makis Voridis met with prominent animal rights activist Panagiotis Milas, who has been working with local authorities to create a special department within the municipal police force to deal with animal cruelty, said Kathimerini.
The aim of the amendment will be to make it easier for authorities to prosecute animal abusers and for stricter penalties after the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA moved to lessen penalties for animal abuse before withdrawing it after outcries from animal rights backers.