A 55-year-old man in Thessaloniki was sentenced to two years in prison and faces a 5,000-euro fine for shooting and injuring a stray dog ​​with an air gun, the latest alarming instance of animal cruelty to come to light.

A misdemeanor court in the northern Greece city ruled on the case which was brought to court in October 2019. The incident came to the attention of authorities after someone anonymously reported it citing the testimony of a child who was playing in the neighborhood and allegedly saw the dog come out injured from the suspect’s house.

Although the stray dog survived the shot, it died two days later after being poisoned, a vile but common practice in Greece known as “fola”, slang for poison or poisoning.

Greece has a very poor track record compared to other Western countries for animal welfare, failing not only to punish abusers but also to address a stray animal problem. The country has come into the international spotlight repeatedly for recurring instances of cruelty to animals, which go unpunished.

The Thessaloniki man did not appear in court and denied all accusations of animal cruelty. His sentence was suspended for three years.

According to police, in the January-April period, more than 3,000 reports for animal cruelty and abuse were filed, with fines exceeding 2.1 million euros imposed on offenders. Cases, however, rarely reach the courts.

In the last few months, animal cruelty and abuse incidents in Greece have been reported in Arachova, Lamia, and Megara, as well as in Grevena where four horses were shot dead and butchered. The incidents prompted the country’s highest court to order investigations.

Meanwhile, a man who had reported a case of animal abuse in 2018 in Nafpaktos, told Mega channel that he has since been harassed and threatened.

Earlier this year, the Greek police opened the 10410 hotline to report animal abuse.

Should you witness animal abuse, welfare group Animal Action Greece advises to first report the incident to the local police. Make sure an official report is drawn up and request a protocol number for the reported incident.