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Santorini holiday donkey fines

- by John Swift

Santorini holiday donkey fines.

Santorini donkeys have always been a big hit on Greek island tours but their welfare has often been a problem.

Now the first fines have been imposed on Santorini donkey owners for breaching Santorini island animal welfare codes.

Fines of €200 have been imposed on 10 donkey owners who breached the code of practice set up some years ago to protect the Santorini donkeys from ill treatment.

A spokesman for the Santorini Donkey Sanctuary said: "Some donkey owners were not rotating their animals and they were hitting them with sticks. All this should be prevented now."

Donkeys in Santorini have become a major tourist draw. As well as serving local needs s for years they are used throughout the summer season to carry tourists up and down the 600 steep steps that lead from the port to the hilltop resort of Fira.

Donkeys and mules are the most popular means of transport in Santorini, carrying bags and luggage, allowing tourists to enjoy their Santorini holidays in comfort.

A code of practice set up by the Santorini Donkey Sanctuary several years ago has not been enforced -- until the recent election of a new mayor, who has pledged to improve welfare.

Donkey owners must now apply for health certificates and relevant documents proving the working donkeys are healthy and capable of transporting people and luggage on their backs.

But Donkey Sanctuary workers are still urging tourists to keep a close eye on animal welfare and to report any concerns about their treatment. Previous spot-checks have found girths embedded in donkey flesh and lame donkeys being forced to work.