By Anna Stamatiou
In a small but no doubt satisfying act of civil disobedience a number of dog owners took their pets for a swim yesterday. At noon on the 21st of September the welfare association “Animal Protection”, which is based in Chania, Crete, held a party on the beach and invited owners to bring their pets along in protest against the law that forbids owners to allow their dogs into the sea at any bathing beach. The Chania group finds this unreasonable and prejudiced as there is no evidence that allowing a dog into the sea where people are also bathing poses any increased risk to human health.
At the good-humoured gathering there was music, balloons, and of course a bazaar in support of the group’s finances. The group had organized a thorough clean-up (with poo bags provided – naturally) and the beach was left cleaner than before… free of both dog and human-generated waste. What was notable by its absence was any complaint from other bathers. The lifeguard on the central beach was a bit grouchy, as apparently he worried that the party would spoil his peace and quiet, but in spite of him everyone had a good time, and most also got pretty comprehensively wet.
There were prizes of course… for the strongest, the bravest… and the most reluctant swimmer. There were so many “competitors” that the number of awards had to be hastily increased. The actual prize was free micro-chipping – it’s a jolly responsible group. Irene, one of the association’s members, had brought goodies along for Booboo’s birthday and everyone shared “nicely”. There were no fights, and everyone went home with a balloon (though it’s not reported how many balloons actually made it off the beach in a state of er, shall we say, inflatedness).
As far as Animal Protection, Chania are aware this is the first beach party of its kind in Greece. It was documented by the local news media and lots of people enquired as to when there would be a repeat event. (We have heard nothing – so far – about any arrests).