Chain dogs legal ?

Is the keeping of chain dogs legal in Greece ? Information about the ‘barrel dogs’, the legal situation, measures against the owners, warning, reporting to the police and penalties.

Chained dogs

Chained dogs, the ‘barrel dogs’ of Crete.

Barrel dogs

Chaindogs are called ‘Barrel Dogs’ in Greece. The name is a kind of program, because it defines exactly the situation of these animals: they are dogs chained to a barrel, home-made doghouse or similar improvisation in the middle of no-man’s-land.
Anyone who has ever seen such a ‘barrel dog’, pictures or a video of it, will not find it difficult to imagine the constantly repeating daily routine of such a dog. And one thing is for sure, the ‘barrel dogs’ mostly spend their whole life there, and they are probably the biggest problem of animal welfare in Greece.

The keeping of a ‘barrel dog’ may seem like pure sadism to a normal, educated and civilized person, but it does serve its purpose. Chained up all their lives, fed with little or sometimes no food and water, without veterinary care and usually with a barrel as a refuge (hence their nickname), they serve as ‘living scarecrows’ and scare the wandering flocks of sheep and goats out of the not completely enclosed enclosures and open roads so that they do not leave.

These so-called ‘barrel dogs’ live to serve farmers and homeowners as ‘scarecrows’ or ‘doorbells’ (the so-called bell dogs), but all too many dogs in Greece live a tormented lonely life because of these owners who do not understand or care that animals have feelings or are thirsty and hungry and need closeness and love.

Dog chained to the road or path

Dog chained to the road or path instead of gates or cattle grate – the ‘convenient and cheap’ solution on Crete.

Reasonable gates or cattle grates in the ground as a solution seem to be an unimaginable technique for many shepherds and farmers in Greece. They much prefer to force a poor creature into a life of chains, sorrow, grief and again sorrow. They are just tools that farmers simply replace when they die.
Then a young dog usually takes the place of his dead predecessor and these animals see themselves as human society.


But many of them die before they are one or two years old. These dogs are overjoyed when they receive a kind word and a gentle touch – how cruel it must be to hear the dogs bark, cry and exert themselves at the end of chains as if they were saying, ‘Please come back! I just want some love and attention’.

When you visit Crete or other areas in Greece, remember, as you walk from one beach to the next, that in the dry, brown mountains behind, there are lonely souls living a life worse than you could ever imagine.

Dogs are social beings who usually live in a group – the pack. Man is often the pack substitute. Dogs that are permanently chained somewhere lonely are therefore not kept in a species-appropriate way.

One really wonders how the brain of these owners works and how a government should function if someone can do this consciously with a dog – without legal consequences.

Legal situation

Since 2012, European law has banned the keeping of ‘barrel dogs’ in Greece.
The new animal welfare law of the Greek government states in article 1b:

Well-being of an animal is the set of rules that humans must apply to animals, regarding

  • their protection and good treatment, so that they don’t suffer, and they are not in pain.
  • their stay in a dry and clean space, protected from weather conditions, without them being permanently tethered somewhere and live within inappropriate spaces/structures (e.g. made out of materials such as metal).
  • the provision of medical care as well as food and water, according to their needs.
  • their daily exercise or walk and in general regarding the care and respect humans
    must show to animals.

Article 1(c) and (d) covers all domestic and farm animals, as well as hunting dogs, herd dogs, guard dogs of spaces, dogs for disabled people, search dogs, rescue dogs and dogs of the army and security forces.

Article 5 1c also requires the owner
to follow the rules that enhance the animal’s welfare and to care for its veterinary examination, which is proven by the vet’s notes in the animal’s health booklet or its passport, as well as to ensure the animal has comfortable, healthy and suitable accommodation, accustomed to its natural way of living, allowing it to be able to stand in a natural upright way, without hampering its natural movements and its ability to exercise as much as it is necessary to maintain its health and welfare.

Clearly forbidden and illegal are thus for example:

  • deficient food, none or dirty water.
  • Dogs chained too short (less than 6 meters, c.20 ft)
  • Dogs permanently staying (‘living’) in ‘nowhere’ or ‘no man’s land’ (e.g. on paths, roads, open fences, etc.) and even if this is on the owner’s land or they were taken regulary on a walk.
  • without a proper, sufficiently large, clean and wind- and waterproof doghouse or kennel, but instead barrels or other improvisations or no protection at all.
  • poor care of the dog or disrespectful behaviour of the owner towards the animal.
  • permanently chained dogs without daily exercitement or walk (this must be proven over a period of 72 hours).

How to proof the missing daily walk/excercitement ?

Attaching the cable tie

Attaching the cable tie

In order not to have to be on the spot for 72 hours, the following method is possible as shown in the pictures, as long as you can easily reach the chained dog:

Proof that cable tie was not cut

Proof that cable tie was not cut in the last days

A cable tie (similar to airport suitcases) is attached around the dog’s necklace. The dog can only be released from the chain if the cable tie is removed. If, after at least 72 hours, the cable tie is still present undamaged on the necklace, the dog has not been removed from the chain in the meantime and could not have any outlet.
Take photos with date and time of the cable tie attachment and after the minimum period of 72 hours and submit them as evidence to the police!




Numerous, not cleared away excrements in the area of the chained dog are forbidden (actual fine €100) and can be also reported by
REFERENCE REPORT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND CIVILIZED ENVIRONMENT proper orders to the competent police services 5 of which 5 are strictly enforced, except in the case of 33 TVIVNOUKONO Our previous order that in the event of a finding of a self-inflicted crime for breach of the above provisions, the procedure of the CCP officers would be followed without delay. Public Prosecutor’s Office of Crete. Etrini K. Chisogini Antisageleas Efetn

This can also be reported anonymously with this app.


Other offences which, however, alone are not usually sufficient for a report to the police or a hard to check at the spot, but which, in connection with the points mentioned above, can certainly increase the sentence:

  • missing identification chip with registered owner.
  • missing European pet passport with valid vaccinations registered by a veterinarian.


Measures against owners of chain dogs

chain dog vegetating in the sun despite injuries

A chain dog vegetating in the sun despite injuries is a clear advance of the animal protection law.

To maintain the pressure on the owners of these chain dogs.
a) to report these with the form at Animal Welfare Report with photos and exact coordinates (e.g. from Google Map) (or on Animal Welfare Report Crete) or by e-mail with all required information as attachment to:

(b) and, in obvious or urgent cases, immediately report to the nearest police station (call 100 in emergencies).

For the region of Agios Nikolaos:
Report to the police Address: Erithrou Stavrou 47, Ag. Nikolaos 721 00, Greece
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: +30 2841 091413
you can do this reporting without giving your name (anonymous report). The police must act it is their duty according to law.


Basically it is better to do something once too much than – as unfortunately most people do – nothing at all and just watch.

On the Greek island of Lesbos there is even a ‘dog police‘ which you can contact here or via Facebook Canilos.

Only constant pressure on the owners will change the situation for chain dogs !

Part I: Warning the owner:

Information for owners of chain dogs

In the case of pitifully accommodated chain dogs, a caution attached to the warning papers about duties and sequences for the owner.

If you want to inform the owner of the chain dog about his duties, you can print the following document in Greek language (4 pages) and attach it to the place of the dog:

Requirements for the treatment of dogs (4 pages)

The text informs roughly in English:
Animal Welfare Protocol Under Law 4039/2012 & 4235/14 constitute an offense as set forth below. (fines of 5,000-30,000 euros and imprisonment from 1 to 5 years) Violations of the law also impose administrative fines, paid directly (Article 46 of Law 4235/14), and are now confirmed by the police. We cite them as a PROTECTION PROTOCOL, which consists of all the rules that humans must apply to ALL animals, regarding their protection and welfare so that they do not suffer and generally suffer from respect for their existence. 1) Administration appropriate for the type of food and water. No skeletal and dehydrated animals may be present. It is totally inappropriate to give food as a food. The water that the animal drinks should be clean (not moldy and green). In the summer it is forbidden to leave them without water, even for one day. Food and water utensils must be clean. 2) Stay in a dry, clean, protected from the weather conditions without being permanently tied and living in inappropriate accommodation (metal structures – tanks – barrels). Animals in barrels, tanks or other rough and inadequate structures that do not provide weather protection to animals of any kind shall be prohibited. The complete lack of accommodation and the exposure of animals to the mercy of the weather are prohibited. There is no prohibition on animals stranded in snow, or at the mercy of rains, thunderstorms and heatwaves. The accommodation itself must be protected from the adverse weather conditions above. It must be comfortable, healthy, adapted to the animal’s natural way of life. Permanent tying is prohibited. Pets are not allowed to live in cages permanently. It is necessary to clean the place where the animal lives from the feces. Compulsory daily exercise (walking) – with regard to dogs in particular – is mandatory for the health and well-being of the animal. As long as the animal – dog, sheep, goat, equine – etc is tied, the strap should be at least 6 meters long in order to indirectly observe the law of natural movement and training. Violation of the above rules involves torture, abuse and possible killing. Once the animal has been removed from the point where the complaint was made, the guardian is obliged to show the Police the new location in order to check his new welfare conditions, otherwise he is prosecuted for abandonment (administrative and criminal prosecution-Law 4235/14). 47) 3) Care for medical care. Compulsory vaccination of dogs and cats and other animals where the law states it and provision of a guardian with a health booklet stating the latest vaccinations and parasites with reference to the specific marking code of the marking animal (microchip) sufficiently veterinarian. Animals without skin diseases (scabies, wounds, inflammation etc.) and without ectoparasites (ticks, fleas) 4) Abandonment of animals (Article 47 of Law 4235/14) e) Prohibition of torture, abuse, maltreatment and cruel treatment poisoning, hanging, choking, burning, crushing and mutilating. Ear and tail trimming as well as nail removal are considered amputation. The breeding, training, sale without the relevant licenses and the participation of animals in any kind of duel shall be prohibited. 5) Pets are not allowed to stay permanently on balconies, terraces, open-air apartments and public apartment buildings. Exceptionally they are permitted in the flats and in the garden of the apartment block provided there is a unanimous decision by the apartment owners (GM decision) 6) It is forbidden to kill mammals in slaughterhouses, privately and communally, without preceding bleeding immediately stunned (n. 1197). / 81). 7) Feeding stray animals is by no means prohibited. There is a corresponding acquittal by the Patras Court of First Instance (12/9/2003) for a person who has been charged with this matter. On the contrary, it is enforced by national legislation that protects animal welfare. (& Supreme Court Circular 1 / 8.4.13) Of course, care must be taken to clean the premises where animals are fed. In addition, Article 42 of Law 4235/14 clearly states that feeding is permissible by citizens. 8) Uncontrolled births are prohibited by Law 4039/2012 9) Law 2017/92 on the ratification of the European Convention on Pet Animals: Article 3 (1) ‘No one should unnecessarily cause a pet animal to suffer, suffer or suffer . Article 4 (2) (b) “Every person who has a pet must provide him with appropriate exercise opportunities”. KTEL: Animals are only allowed in the passenger compartment up to 10 kg in a transfer box. BEACHES: Dogs with a leash and a health booklet are allowed everywhere on the beaches. Within the Sea only if the bathers have no problem.

Part II: Threaten the owner:

To threaten the owner with a report to the police, there is another document. For this measure you would have to be on the spot for some time – or you would have to put everything up immediately (with the threat of the police report).
If there is no improvement on the site a few weeks later after the pre-warning above, you should attach Part II:

Warning and punishment

If there is still no reaction from the owner some time later, you should call the police.
If you are not there long enough and/or the situation is self-evident for a report, you could inform the police immediately.

But there is also the possibility to inform the Greek Ministry of Tourism about all maltreated or poorly kept animals. Fill out the official complaint form (because of ‘Animals Treatment’) and send the complaint to the Greek Ministry of Tourism, preferably together with photos and the exact location.
By e-mail:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
mailing address:
The Greek Tourism Organization (EOT)
Dept of Complaints and Consumer Protection An. Tsocha 24 & Soutsou
11521 Athens
or contact the G.T.O page on Facebook here:
or twitter

Reporting to the police

If the measures described above are unsuccessful or not possible, report the matter to a nearby police station. If there is a larger city or town nearby, report it there, as the chances of success and police officers’ knowledge about the details and foreign language skills are better there.

Google Map Coordinates

Google Map Coordinates: The browser link of the position can be copied (bordered in red) and the coordinates of the marked position on the map are displayed in the upper left corner (bordered in purple).

For the report you should present photos or videos of the condition and keeping of the dog – if possible over the entire observation period and with date and time on it – and be able to indicate the exact place – best with coordinates, e.g. from Google Maps. Make sure that there are no persons, house numbers or street names on the pictures, as this may violate data protection regulations and personal rights.

At the police station, show a copy of the Greek government’s order, which instructs the police to record and investigate such complaints, as well as to provide written proof of the measures taken. (an English version is available here)

photo of the evidence

Here, the time and date of the photo of the evidence are clearly visible in the lower right corner.

To file charges at the police (take photos or video with you) in case of violations against the Greek animal protection law is not the usual ‘ad fee’ due! The police have to prosecute offenses against animals ex officio!
The police should not disclose the personal details of the person who made the complaint. However, to be on the safe side, it is advisable to point out that the holder is aggressive.


Please remain courteous, but persistently, against government officials or the police. Insults or the use of abuse are a criminal offense in Greece, which can lead to immediate arrest, especially in the case of unpopular concerns. Therefore, always remain friendly and polite, no matter how hard this is.

If the police does not support or obstruct your cause, you will receive support from the PFPO organisation. Please contact the contacts listed in this PFPO brochure.


animal abuse

The animal abuse, passive or active heavy criminal offense … Learn what awaits you … 1-5 years imprisonment and a fine up to € 15,000; Law 4039/12

Criminal proceedings in Greece unfortunately take many years and considerably longer than in Germany or Great Britain.
The police, however, impose immediate fines if violations of the Animal Welfare Act are found on the spot after the case has been reported. In the case of serious infringements or emergencies (e.g. sick or injured animals) these can also be taken away immediately and then adopted.

The punishments are among other things (the individual amounts are subject however to constant adjustments):

  • Absence of a certificate for electronic identification/chip: €300.
  • Absence of the microchip and registration of the holder: €300.
  • Infringement of animal welfare rules or refusal by the veterinarian: €300.
  • Exposure of pets: €300
  • No metal stamp with vaccination date on animal: €100
  • No cleaning of the environment of the animal from excrement: €100.
  • Lack of animal passport or health book or violation of animal welfare rules: €300.
  • Continuation of the journey after an animal has been approached on the road: €300.
  • Cruelty to animals or abuse: €30,000
Happy ex-barrel dogs

Two of the chain dogs previously seen in the pictures were rescued by an attentive animal lover and now live happily at his home.

Legally binding penalties – which unfortunately can last – can also lead to the removal of the animal and more serious offenses to imprisonment. If, for example, an animal cruelty is reported, documented and the offender can be seized quickly, the person who reports the offense can apply for immediate arrest.

Adoption of a chain dog:
If the owner does not pay the fine imposed by the police on time or wants to avoid this fine in advance, the dog can optionally be taken over by a private person or animal welfare organization and passed on for adoption.

Disclaimer: Since I am not a lawyer, the previous explanations are the result of my personal research, opinion and my own experiences. It is not legal advice.

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  1. Regina : This should not happen because once the police have been there (recorded the microchip or fined for not having one) and if you notice that the dog has disappeared – the police should be able to follow up as they will have the details of the owner. Yes dogs disappear but if you persist the police must follow up and this practise can be stopped.

  2. Sadly, having lived in Greece this is all too common. To try and get action taken against offending owners is normally near impossible. Often the police will not act, the local authorities are not interested and if you do succeed when (and if) it gets to court it is normally quashed (or paid off by “under the table cash”) and the offence made to disappear.
    Likewise locals in the villages will not support you in a case!
    Trust me I know, I reported such instance, fortunately my friend who was linked to the American Embassy had some sway and we did get action, but without her it would not have happend.
    We can only keep trying though…….

  3. Please consider: The moment you have reported such an illegal situation to the police, the dog’s life is seriously endangered because most owners will remove and kill the “evidence”!

  4. The best article so far with all of the info needed in one place.Well done and share this knowledge. I certainly will.

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