Tourists have been complaining about the welfare of many cows kept in terrible conditions by some people on the Greek island of Kos. All over the island, there are hundreds of emaciated cows tied with ropes, without shelter or access to water. These are not kept by actual meat or dairy farmers, but by people who have one cow or two and got subsidies from the EU for each they have. The cows are too thin for using them for meat and dairy, but they are used to get agricultural subsidies and for breeding. 

These cows can be found tied in archaeological sites, beaches, streets, and in the centre of cities and villages. Mariëlla Sprado, a Dutch national who has lived on Kos for about 11 years, said she is confronted with the scene every day and cares about the fate of these cows. She said to Animals Today, “Once you look into the eyes of such a beautifully gentle animals and you see them walking towards you ‘crying’ because they are hoping to be saved with a bucket of water, you have to be made of stone not to want to help them”

Sprado told Vegan FTA that Greek legislation prohibits the keeping of farmed animals unattended on properties that do not belong to them and also prohibits keeping them tied up 24/7, and yet people keep their often-pregnant cows tied up with no water and no shelter from the summer sun. She claims that such legislation is not enforced, as the authorities don’t agree on who should be responsible for enforcing it, and how. The police argue that it is the responsibility of the municipality to enforce cow welfare rules to the breeders and the municipality claims it is the police’s job to track down the cow guardians and take legal action. Additionally, the police say that even if they remove the cows there is no place to take them, as there is no municipal shelter for abused animals — which Sprado claims the municipality is legally obliged to have.

Tourists who were shocked by the cow situation in Kos have started a petition. In it, they write, “We want the municipality of Kos to change this situation. With signing this petition, we show them that together we care and disagree with the horrible way these animals are treated… If you do not wish to see this animal cruelty on your holiday and you don’t want to visit Kos Island in Greece as long as this animal abuse is going on, please let them know. Via Kos Tourism Office or or to the mayor of Kos:”

This is another example of how animal agriculture should be completely phased out and the problem is not limited to big factory farms but to anyone exploiting farmed animals. Even people who only keep one or two cows often keep them in bad conditions, and the authorities who should enforce animal welfare legislation often forget them (even in countries of the EU that boast to have strict regulations). The farming of any animal, at a big or small scale, causes them suffering and there will be a point that it will need to be banned. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.