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In early July, Network for Animals (NFA) highlighted the appalling abuse suffered by donkeys, mules and horses on the picturesque Greek island of Santorini.

Our video showed how the animals are forced to carry tourists up and down a 1 300-foot high cliff path all day in the baking sun, without adequate food, water or shade.

Our video went viral and on 28 July we celebrated the news that the Municipality of Santorini had introduced a number of measures to protect “the rights and well-being of donkeys”.

Today, Network for Animals was delighted to receive the news that the Government of Greece has passed a new law that imposes a ban on tourists deemed overweight from riding on donkeys, mules and horses. The law specifically restricts people who weigh more than 100 kg from riding on the backs of the animals. It is one of a suite of new laws prepared by Greece’s Ministry of Rural Development and Food that aims to protect Santorini’s donkeys.

“We are thankful for this news,” said NFA chief campaigner, David Barritt, “it is an important victory for the donkeys, mules and horses of Santorini and we are proud to have played a part in raising awareness about the terrible conditions the animals live and work under.”

“We could not have achieved this victory without the help of our supporters. They shared our video of the cruelty taking place on Santorini, resulting in a groundswell of outrage across the world. As a result, the Government of Greece has acted at last.”

NFA supporters also donated funds to the organisation’s partner on Santorini, the Santorini Animal Welfare Association which cares for working donkeys, mules and horses and also provides a sanctuary for those that are too old to work, or have succumbed to their injuries.

According to a statement issued by the government of Greece, the new laws will govern the working conditions of the donkeys of Santorini, ensuring that their “level of health is high”.

They will also ensure that animals that are unfit for work – that is sick, injured or pregnant animals, or those with damage to their hoofs – are not allowed to carry tourists.

The laws also prescribe that the donkeys, mules and horses should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day.

But importantly, the working animals of Santorini will at last be protected from carrying the heavy loads that maim and cripple them. They will not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. Their loads may not exceed 100 kg, or one fifth of their body weight.

Barritt added that challenges remain on Santorini: “The local authority have promised to ensure that by next year the donkeys will have water and shade when they carry tourists up and down the cliff path. They have made similar promises in the past and did nothing, we will be closely monitoring the situation.”


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