A British holidaymaker who suffered severe bite wounds when he was savaged by stray dogs in Athens three years ago, urges the UK government to issue a travel warning.
Speaking to BBC, Peter Bucktrout said he was attacked by three dogs near to the Acropolis in Athens and fought them off using his camera. He had decided to speak out after Celia Hollingworth, from Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, was mauled to death allegedly by stray dogs near Maroneia, North Greece, last week.
Bucktrout believes the government should issue a warning to visiting tourists.
He He was attacked by a pack of dogs while holidaying in May 2014 with his wife and 10-year-old son. He was badly bitten on his arm and legs and took some graphic photos of his injuries.
The 54-year-old, from Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, was walking around taking photos of the Acropolis while his wife and son went to a restaurant to get a drink.
Mr Bucktrout described walking along a footpath no more than 50ft (15m) away from a tourist coach stop when three dogs came rushing out from some nearby woods.
“I heard a bark and the large dog was on me before I realised what was happening,” he said.
“It jumped at me and locked on to my arm, and the two smaller ones grabbed hold of my ankles.”
He described in full detail the attack, his treatment in a local hospital and well as all the contacts to British and Greek authorities.
Obviously disappointed about the Greeks’ respond, he said authorities “need to do something to get rid of the street dogs. It’s a real problem.”
Bucktrout added he was “absolutely shocked and saddened” to hear of Celia Hollingworth’s death and believed the government should issue a warning to visitors.
“The authorities told me they are picking up people with dog bites all the time. My hotel told me that the police do not record dog attacks because they are so common.”
The experience was so traumatic for Pete Bucktrout that “he flew straight home and was admitted to an isolation ward at his local hospital. He spent several days having his wounds treated and being given antibiotics to reduce infection.”
63-year-old British tourist Celia Hollingworth went missing in Northern Greece, last Thursday, after she decided to hike from the archaeological site of Mesimvria to Maroneia where she was staying in a pansion.
Before any contact to her was lost she had called her family in London saying she was attacked by wild dogs.
A big search operation was launched, her body was found in a terrible condition, on Saturday noon.
The local coroner told daily The Times, that the woman was most possible mauled by rabid wolves than by stray dogs.
Coroner Nikolaos Kifinidis told The Times that the condition of remains found on Saturday suggested she was not attacked by stray dogs.
“It seems like she may have been attacked by other wild animals, like rabid wolves and jackals,” he said.
Laboratory tests should be able to show whether it was stray dogs or wolves or jackals and whether they had rabbits or not.
The majority of British media blames stray dogs for the tragic death of Celia Hollingworth, citing older estimations – from 2012, I think – by Greek welfare organization that ‘one million dogs’ have been abandoned by Greeks because they cannot afford them due to the economic crisis.
PS I have no idea what Bucktrout was expecting from the Greek authorities and why he did not go to the media right after the attack happened.
PS Stray dogs have been always roaming around in Greece, the big elimination took place short before the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. Majority of strays in downtown Athens are vaccinated and sterilized and are being taking care by animal lovers and animal welfare organizations.
Stray dogs will always be there, since many locals especially in the country side refuse to sterilize their pets or ‘working dogs’ and think that the solution is to throw away the unwanted puppies (and kittens.)
Education must always go before crash measures like elimination.