Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: near Washington, DC
Ferals in Greece
I went to Greece on vacation last week, and while there helped/observed the feeding of 100 cats in Athens and the care of 90+ dogs in a refuge in Santorini.
Nine Lives (based in UK) does a wonderful job taking care of cats in Athens. The woman I went with feeds around 100 cats at eight different feeding stations four times a week around the base of the Acropolis. Other volunteers feed in the morning, other days. The cats know her smell, walk, voice, and come running at feeding time. She can pet most of them. Initially the Greek residents were not happy with Nine Lives feeding the cats, but soon came to realize that the cats were healthier and the cat population was decreasing. All the cats have been spayed / neutered (and the volunteers recognize when a new cat comes around and s/n them), and given regular deworming/defleaing medication. Nine Lives is largely funded by ex-patriots who live in other parts of the country. It costs Nine Lives around 50 US$ to s/n a cat; it costs a private individual around 100$ to s/n--in some cases, that represents half the person's monthly income. Nine Lives helps those individuals, funds permitting.
In Santorini, I went through Christina of SAWA--Santorini Animal Welfare Association--to visit their refuge for dogs and donkeys. Greeks do not understand the concept of having an animal as a pet; if the cat doesn't eat vermine or the dog/donkey can't guard/work, then the animal has no value and is often poisoned (cat food + rat poison or glass) or chained to a tree in the middle of no where and left to die. So SAWA rescues the dogs they hear about, and some people drop off a dog at their facility, chained to a tree, in the middle of the night. SAWA is trying to re-educate people about animals, pets, starting at the kindergarden level; previous attemps proved less than successful. Christina's frustration at the enormity of the problem is platable. SAWA is largely funded by ex-patriots or people who visit Santorini on a regular basis and hear about the plight of animals. Cats fare better than dogs/donkeys in Santorini because the cats eat mice and rats (every 10 feet it seems there is a restaurant/cafe). I saw bowls of dry cat food placed in front of several shops. I bought some cat food and put it out when I saw a cat (and no shop keeper); the cats woofed it down. A 3.5 oz can (think Fancy Feast size) costs around one US dollar. Also it seems cats aren't bothered as much as dogs by the cold(er) weather--the cats can seek shelter more easily than can a big dog.
To be fair, many Greeks don't have the money for vet care. And culturally s/n isn't accepted like it is in the USA. On the other hand, it is illegal to euthanize animals except in very limited circumstances.
I was able to visit "Dr. Margaruite", the vet SAWA uses; while there, it was "cat day", she was s/n around 7 cats. I don't know the circumstances of how the cats came to her. The vet also has a cat room, where I visited three adorable kittens, all had eye diseases, one cat (the friendliest) was blind. The cats were well taken care of; there was a volunteer there who comes 4 x a week (she lives in UK six months, in Santorini six months).
It was fascinating to learn how feral/stray cats/dogs are treated in a different country. And makes the USA's policies light years ahead of some other countries.
Last edited by marie73; 10-09-2012 at 03:35 PM.
Reason: removed link