Adesmeftos Typos

Saturday 10 November

Irini Molfessi, President of the Greek Federation of Animal Welfare talks to Adesmeftos Typos

Love with …………a tail!!
They are the tragic figures of every town. Certainly they will have accompanied you, at least once, to the door of your house, seeking only a little affection or a game. However very few in our country are interested enough to adopt one of the strays who follow daily in our footsteps, eager to become member of some animal loving family. Their guardian angels during the time that their wandering takes the place of a warm embrace, are the hundreds of members of animal welfare groups who not only ensure their survival, but also search for a secure, permanent home for them. BEFORE AFTER

How is the bridge that saves animals erected?
The policy which is followed by the Greek Animal Welfare Federation and its members, stresses Mrs Irini Molfessi, centres around the full restoration to health of every animal, even in the case of severe injury and as expensive as this may be. Injured animals on the streets unfortunately do not constitute the exception. For that reason, priority is given to those who have immediate needs. Rescuing differs for each animal, according to the situation and of course, in some circumstances, a rescue involves danger for the volunteer who may be called to collect strays on roads with heavy traffic or to cope with wild and frightened animals. From then on, however, all animals are vaccinated, treated for parasites, microchipped and the adults are sterilised.

Bianca was found in the Psychiko area of Athens, frightened and wandering around alone. She became a valuable member of the family in Cologne who adopted her. The little boy of the family, who is hyperactive, has found in Bianca a patient and enduring companion to play with. She proved to be an excellent help in releasing all his excess energy. The little girl of the family, who had been experiencing certain mobility difficulties, managed to climb down the stairs, for the first time at the age of four, with Bianca’s aid and support.

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Ala was found next to a garba bin, along with her four brothers and sisters, at a summer resort on the island of Aegina. It was pouring with rain that day. She and Villy, a female dog who was dumped within the premises of EKPAZ - the shelter for wildlife, also located in the island of Aegina – have both been adopted by the same family in Cologne and very soon they started to offer invaluable services to the local nursing home, as pat dogs.

In Greece, although the law provides for funds to support the multi faceted work that Greek animal welfare organizations undertake, in practice this does not happen and those injections of cash remain locked in bureaucratic drawers. The activity (of animal welfare groups) is founded totally on voluntary work and the income that supports the heavy economic load that accompanies saving a stray dog (veterinary services, food, transport etc) comes exclusively from the contributions of Greek and also foreign animal lovers. Under these conditions, and in accordance with recent studies, it comes as no surprise that ‘every Injured and requiring treatment ... year more than 1 million euros is and a home spent by foreign animal welfare organisations in our country.’ The biggest portion of this money is used for sterilisation programmes, improvement of Greek shelters, veterinary care, feeding of strays and also the transport of animals for adoption abroad. In other words it is no exaggeration, that in reality, Greek animal welfare groups would not be able to carry out their work without the generous assistance of foreigners, particularly if you take into account that the problem of abandonment of animals in our country is particularly acute in comparison to other European countries.

Misleading Campaign
The adoption of strays offer a roof and love to thousands of animals that would otherwise wonder on the unfriendly streets of big cities. According to Irini Molfesi, “outrageous lies have been told about the shipments abroad, sometimes intentionally, but usually due to ignorance of the animal welfare reality in specific countries”. As Mrs Molfesi, president of the Panhellenic Animal Welfare Federation and one of the most active members of the animal rescue community, explains, “sometimes rumors begin from a bad translation, as in the case of the sausages from Belgium, produced with unsuitable raw material in 2004. In

this case, the material which should have been used to make dog food was incorporated into sausages intended for human consumption and this was misinterpreted to ‘meat made from dogs’. Furthermore, people intentionally reported that the sausages were made from Greek stray dogs that were supposed to be adopted in the country”. On the other hand, it’s an undeniable truth that every year animal lovers spend thousands of euro for the salvation of animals that our fellow-citizens “made sure“ to abandon in the streets without any legal consequences. “Let’s take the strays seriously for once”, concludes Mrs Molfesi.

Afterwards the attempt to find a suitable family begins
In the case of serious trauma or illness, the return to health is often a lengthy process and diffiucult for both the animals and the person undertaking the care. Frightened and mistreated animals will need the help of specialists in order to gain trust in humans and this process is characterised by a long period of time and a lot of hard work, although undertaken with a lot of love by the same volunteers!

The adoptions
The practice of animal adoption does not, unfortunately, constitute a usual adoption in our country. Some of the rescued animals are given to Greek families, but most of them do not have the same opportunity. In an effort to find a solution, Mrs Molfesi reports, “we had to approach recognised European animal welfare societies and some of them offered to help us. Their members had already visited Greece on holidays and were familiar with the problems of stray animals”. Thus, foster families were found in other European countries, with higher animal welfare awareness, due to larger populations and education. Nowadays, notes Mrs Molfesi, more than 60 registered Greek animal welfare societies choose to send animals for adoption to foreign countries, although the cost is very high. It is calculated that around 6,000 Greek animals are adopted in Europe every year. Why do foreigners adopt animals from Greece? Many inaccuracies have been heard and written on this matter. As Mrs Molfesi explains to Adesmeftos Typos “In the countries with whom we cooperate, it is not a custom to sell dogs and cats in pet shops. Very few puppies are available for adoption, because the majority of house pets are sterilised, so the only alternative is to buy them from the breeders.

Most importantly, adds Mrs Molfesi, is that the animal welfare conscience in these countries is highly developed. Mixed breed animals are special, one of a kind and have been rescued from the dangers of the streets. Having already visited Greece and come across the problems of strays in our country, foreigners always help to save an animal. However, when their holidays come to an end, the moment of leaving is very upsetting. The problem with stray animals remains very serious. Their numbers multiply despite the efforts of Greek and foreign animal rescue volunteers. The need for help is undoubtedly very large and the first thing that has to change is our mentality. We must, at all cost, activate our human chords and participate actively by offering the most simple and at the same time the most precious commodity .... a cuddle for the strays of our country who need it as much as we do ...

The Nikos Kaiser family who live in Germany, adopted four dogs from Greece - Astor, Bernadette, Amy and Paula. They wanted to help animals that would be very unlikely to be adopted by somebody else and certainly no Greek would have given these animals a home, as they are not pedigrees or young and Amy, in particular, is a dog who cannot walk. As a puppy, Amy suffered a serious fracture and can’t use her right leg. The family decided to adopt her because she had lived in the same enclosure as Paula and Bernadette five months earlier, and so Amy had lost her friends.

ASTOR - before

Astor had been found tied to the rails of the care station in Aegina (see photo above) in September 2005, in pitiful condition, dehydrated, ill and already 5 years old. After a long and difficult recovery which took one year, he was ready to be adopted by the Nikos Kaiser family who already had 3 dogs from Aegina, all of whom required veterinary care.

ASTOR - after

As if 4 Greek dogs aren’t enough for this wonderful family, this year they came to visit us and during a walk on the lead, poor Astor and Bernadette fell victims to poison. Fortunately they survived.

How much does it cost to prepare an animal to travel abroad
Adult dog Haematological tests: 65€ Treatment for parasites (tablets and spray): 20€ Vaccinations: 40€ Sterilisation: 80-120€ Microchip: 40€ Passport: 15€ Total for veterinary services (15% discount for strays): 220 - 225€ Food: 50€ Transport: 370€ Total: 640€ for male and 675€ for female Puppy Treatment for parasites (tablets and spray): 20€ Vaccinations: 6€ Microchip: 40€ Passport: 15€ Total for veterinary services (15% discount) for strays): 135€ - 15% = 115€ Food (3 months): 70€ Transport: 180€

Total: 365€