It all started 4,5 years ago when some terrible pictures of stray dogs in Aspropyrgos, an industrial suburb near Athens, appeared on facebook. A female citizen of that area had taken the pictures to show the bad conditions of stray dogs there. A group of total strangers, from different areas of Athens decided to go there to see what was going on.
Aspropyrgos, February 2012, 10.00 am, a cold Saturday. About 15 people met in a central street of Aspropyrgos. They introduced themselves, had a cup of hot coffee and started to wander in the unknown streets just to check what the situation was like at the time. All they could see was dirty fields, abandoned fields, garbage dumps, not to mention gipsy camps scattered all over the area. And the worst of all? Dozen of stray dogs. Small ones, old ones, sick and newborn puppies. Too many puppies in the middle of nowhere.
The following Saturday this group of people, including me, went there again in an attempt to understand the magnitude of the problem. In their cars they started to explore that industrial suburb. Nothing had changed. The same pictures of stray dogs everywhere. Sick animals, skeletal, starveling animals. Many of them hit by cars and lorries, abandoned in landfills. Animals that were between life and death. Ghost dogs. So these people decided to do something to alleviate the pain of these poor creatures.
Aspropyrgos is one of the worst areas in Greece. People call it the “trashcan of animals” as someone wants to abandon a dog, a cat, a horse (indeed a horse), he goes there for two reasons. First of all that area is far from Athens and, therefore, dogs can’t go back to their home and, secondly, the owners -trying to get rid of their guilt – think that their pet can survive by eating from trashcans.
This is how “The Ghost dogs of Aspropyrgos” was born. A group of brave people, activists and romantic volunteers. Ever since that first cold day in Aspropyrgos 3,5 years ago they have been there every Saturday and, if need be, other days during the week, from early in the morning until late at night. These volunteers are there for these dogs, the ghost-dogs, rain or shine. What they do? They feed more than 400 dogs, take the sick ones to vets, neuter them, vaccinate them, deworm them. And finally they try to find home for them. They carry them in their cars, sometimes bleeding due to diseases or to injuries caused by cars. The most frequent injury is broken legs as everyday dogs are victims of hit-and-run cars cases. Volunteers’ cars have literally been transformed into ambulances for all these dogs.
They do that without any support from the state or municipality. The Greek state turns a blind eye to the problem of strays dogs and this is not because of the financial crisis. It has always has been like that. Therefore, these people depend on their own money and on animals lovers’ donations/financial aid . On their side, fortunately, stands GAR( Greek Animal Rescue, a British fund-raising organisation which has been helping animals in Greece since 1989.
Up to now volunteers of “The Ghost Dogs of Aspropyrgos” have saved numerous dogs. They have neutered hundreds of dogs and they have found homes for dozens of them. But they are alone. In Aspropyrgos there are supposed to be more than 2,500 stray dogs. Most of them are sick or badly injured so they depend on your support to continue their work.
If you want to find out more about that Greek animal Welfare and take a look at their awesome work, click on their Greek or British page on facebook. Their facebook page is the most popular animal lovers page in Greece
More info: Facebook
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