Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Cats - a photographic expedition. By Anna Stamatiou

Communication is a vital part of our work at GAWF/Animal Action and, as we have all been told a thousand times, a picture is worth a thousand words.  So on a rather grey October afternoon I took to the streets around my home in Athens in search of the many stray cats that live in our neighbourhood.  There are so many, and I thought it would be easy to photograph some of them so that we can have some recent images to use in promoting our work. 

A few metres down my road there is a diving equipment shop.  Its owner, Ali, is a daily feeder of our neighbourhood strays so they often hang out nearby, waiting for him to appear.  I caught sight of some of his “regulars” clustered around the huge rubbish bin on the street corner, sniffing around for scraps.  Most of them took off but one stayed as it was busy licking something nasty out of a crumpled bit of aluminium foil.  As I approached, camera in hand, it glared at me and, deciding I was clearly taking an altogether unwarranted interest in its activities, slunk off to keep an eye on me from under a parked car.  I waited, but although it emerged eventually, it had rumbled me and kept its distance.  Cats 3: Anna 0

My next targets were gathered in a side street close to the new Acropolis Museum.  There was an old yogurt pot with clean water in it in a doorway and I assumed someone was feeding the three sleepy-eyed customers that didn’t seem too phased by my presence.  One jumped onto a car and even allowed me to tickle its ears but, as soon as the camera came out it scarpered and re-joined the other two, regarding me from a distance that would be enough to provide me with only the most boring of images.  Cats 6: Anna 0

I was saved from utter humiliation by the appearance of Eleni Kefalogianni and her bulging carrier bag.  Eleni lives locally and is a pillar of Nine Lives – a very active group of cat lovers, feeders and carers who, as she told me as I joined her on her feeding round, daily feed about 120 stray cats in central Athens, almost all of which the organisation has also neutered.  I felt proud that GAWF/Animal Action has from time to time been able to support them in their work – particularly in the neutering aspect of it.

 As soon as Eleni appeared, secret signals swept through the area and cats began to appear.  They honey-poured themselves over walls and parapets; tooth-pasted themselves out from under cars; Light Brigade charged full pelt up the hill; materialised out of thin air.  They all looked healthy, well fed and the majority had a snip out of one ear that said “I’m neutered”.  They queued, quarrelled, wove through railings and followed Eleni on her round.  They refused to stand still and be photographed; they refused to look into the lens.  Cats 117 (approx.): Anna about 9

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Caring for wildlife casualties in Greece – EKPAZ and ANIMA. By Anna Stamatiou, Trustee

Over the years GAWF has supported groups that concern themselves with the rescue of wildlife in Greece.  It is a small but important aspect of our mission.  Last Spring GAWF/Animal Action officially passed on a complaint we had received against the Wildlife Rescue Centre, EKPAZ, in Aegina to the Ministry of the Environment.  The confiscation of 40 tortoises from a separate, unlicensed wildlife centre in central Greece this Summer, and the flurry of accusation and counter-accusation that surrounded it, led us to look again at the broader question of what happens to sick or injured wild animals in Greece. 

Our CEO, Amalia, and I decided the time had come to get some personal experience of the Aegina centre, one of the longest established (and government-licensed) rescue centres in Greece, but one with an increasingly poor reputation.  So in July we took a day trip to see for ourselves what conditions there were really like. “Squalid” more or less sums it up, though we did have the impression that there were people there that were trying to do their best in difficult circumstances.  Long term lack of funding has meant that the place has a very run down feel.

Among the animals we saw were foxes, a wild boar, buzzards, falcons, flamingos, pelicans, pigeons, terrapins, a golden eagle, and barn owls.   The confiscated tortoises were mentioned but we did not see them.

Although neither of us is a veterinarian, we were concerned about the standards of cleanliness not only of the enclosures but also of the food and water provided.  We worried that in the summer heat many animals did not appear to have enough shade, and that some species seemed overcrowded.  It was not clear to us that the aim of the place was four-square to prepare every possible creature for reintroduction to the wild. 

What a contrast there was between that centre and the small one, ANIMA, that is situated in Kallithea – one of the southern suburbs of Athens.  Operating on a shoestring out of a ground floor space in a small apartment block, ANIMA relies on donations and volunteers and has developed a close working relationship with the highly regarded ALKYONI wildlife refuge, on the island of Paros.  Much use is made of cardboard boxes as temporary accommodation, but each was clean and fresh.  Purposeful and professional, ANIMA arranges care for all kinds of creatures, but at the time of our visit there were large numbers of birds that seem to get into trouble on their annual migrations, colliding with power lines or coming into contact with irresponsible hunters – the kind that will fire at anything that moves. 

The team has almost daily contact with a specialist veterinary practice that is highly skilled in surgeries to repair broken wings… and much more.   A high proportion of the animals passing through the centre is released back into the wild.

On the September day of our visit, ANIMA had just taken delivery of a badger from Crete, wounded in a road accident, and were most anxious to assure us that the animal would be taken back to the island for release… once it was well enough. 

We happily follow the steady stream of pictorial evidence of releases that ANIMA post on their Facebook page…  and share a series of their latest images, illustrating the release of a rehabilitated flamingo, here.

In devising GAWF/Animal Action’s strategy for ensuring the welfare of wild animals in Greece, we will continue to inform ourselves about the existing groups – their philosophical approach, capacity, and management – so that we can make the most efficient possible use of the funds that we have available.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lindsay and Graham's 55K fundraising walk across the Pennines for the animals

Lindsay and Graham at the starting line
In 2005 whilst holidaying in Paxos, I was saddened to find so many neglected cats and no vet services on the island. I decided to found an animal welfare organisation that could deal with these problems and PAWS (Paxos Animal Welfare Organisation) was created. Since then with the support of the mayor PAWS has made a considerable impact on the island by creating a more caring environment for its animals residents and tourists.

Fundraising is a perennial problem and I have to constantly apply for grants and dream up new ideas for raising money. In a moment of madness, and probably after a couple of glasses of wine, I was persuaded to enter the 50k (which was later extended by the organisers to 55k) Trans Pennine Challenge to be held on June 21st 2013.  Always thinking that kilometres passed more quickly than miles, it didn’t really register what a long way this was to walk in one day!

Having severely broken my ankle 3 years earlier and with 2 arthritic knees, I realised I had better organise some serious training as this was going to be more than just a stroll in the park with my dog!
Walking for the animals
Although walking is my favourite hobby, the longest distance I had tackled in one day was the 24 mile Three Peaks in Yorkshire in 2006. Since then I had regularly joined my friends on monthly rambles of varying lengths – usually around 10 miles in the winter and up to 16 miles in the summer. However I now had 6 months to prepare for 34 miles plus hills and it was the winter when the weather was ghastly and everywhere was knee deep in mud. The expression ‘We’re British’ came to mind so in January the training programme began. I started by increasing the number of walks I did each week and then gradually increased their length. This entailed tackling all the hills I could find on the North and South Downs.

I had huge support from my friends and my little dog who with only 2” legs faithfully trotted beside me for hundreds of miles. Officially he is a Wire Haired Dachshund called Harry, but I have now registered him as a new breed – A Sussex Mountain Dog!

With Harry - the Sussex Mountain Dog! 
 When the weather got a little warmer, I arranged to walk the whole of the South Downs Way with a variety of friends. This is a magnificent 105 mile trail from Eastbourne to Winchester which I completed in a week. Further training involved a 20mile South Down Hike and a 24 mile Surrey 4 Peak Trail by which time I had clocked up a total of about 380miles in 5 months. Surely I was ready?
Ten days before the event, I spent a very busy week on Paxos working on the new building that the municipality has given PAWS to use as a permanent veterinary clinic. The costs of the renovation work focused my mind on the impending charity walk so I returned home to the UK full of determination.

I tried not to look at the weather forecast but when the organisers sent out a warning email about torrential conditions, I thought it wise to line my rucksack with bin bags and pack every available piece of waterproof gear I could find.

When the moment of truth finally arrived, my fund raising partner Graham & I set off for Manchester by train on the afternoon before the walk. We were fortunate enough to have friends in the area that offered us accommodation and to be our support team. I have to say they were the best back up team ever, waking us up at 6am on D Day and getting us to the start on time and being there at the end to comfort us and drive us home.

A very welcome glass of bubbly at the finishing line
The walk itself was an incredible adventure – the weather gods were in a better mood than predicated so we only experienced a couple of showers plus some light rain over the last 6k. The event was brilliantly organised by Action Challenge with four stops along the way. These comfort stations provided a variety of healthy food and drink as well as toilets and medical facilities. At each station along the way the Red Cross medical teams had increasing numbers of customers! The camaraderie with other walkers was wonderful so in a masochistic sort of way I really enjoyed the event. After 13 hours of walking through beautiful scenery along the Rivers Mersey and Tame and over the Pennines, I finally staggered over the finishing line to be presented with a medal and a glass of bubbly – I’ll let you decide which I appreciated most!

Do it again? – not sure – I believe it was one step too far but ask me again in a few months’ time.
Recommend it? – Definitely!!

For more information visit our website

Thursday, 30 May 2013

It’s not only about teeth and hooves - by Anna Stamatiou - GAWF/Animal Action Trustee

Cleo gets a little help from Anna with the chin strap
When the GAWF/Animal Action Equine team goes on outreach visits we often write reports in which care to equine dentition and feet feature prominently.  You might think that rasping and filing is all we ever do.  But the team encounters all kinds of other problems as well, and these call for careful observation and attention to detail.  Add to those a pinch of patience and a dollop of ingenuity and small things can really make a difference to the quality of life of our “clients”. 

Mmmnnn.  That’s a whole lot more comfortable
This donkey was brought to us by Kyria Koula on Kasos on the 24th of May.  While it was being given the routine checks and usual care, our vet Cleo noticed that it had an injury to its chin, due to rubbing from a halter that was far too tight.  Kyria Koula had put its uncooperative behaviour down to a grumpy disposition but the team soon realised the poor animal was in fact in constant pain.  Its halter was worn out and could no longer be adjusted.  But Giannis, our farrier, and Cleo were not about to leave the donkey in distress.                                                                                                                                                                                                
OK.  Let’s go home
With a bit of ingenuity (and a length of strong nylon bootlace), Giannis repaired the head strap so that the halter could be loosened, while Cleo devised a nicely padded chin strap… with the high-tech aid of an old hankie and some self-adhesive bandage.  Add a spritz of blue spray antibiotic powder and some gentle handling and the donkey soon became a different animal, standing calmly and then docilely following Kyria Koula, who runs the village olive press, home.   Now that’s what we call a result!

PS. Thanks to Irini Fafalios, our kind volunteer, for recording this small but important intervention.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Loukanikos the Greek riot dog by Lucy Westmore, Head of UK Operations GAWF

Running from danger
Squaring up to the police
Times have been extremely hard in Greece during recent years and there have been riots and demonstrations aplenty. But most people wouldn’t have expected to see a stray dog marching along with protesters – in fact, Loukanikos was there showing his support at almost all the riots in Athens!

Loukanikos (which actually means sausage in Greek), can be seen in many amateur videos, silently marching alongside the demonstrators, wagging his tail along to the chants. Even the tear gas and firebombs didn’t drive this tough old
boy away, he seemed to thrive on the action.
Dodging tear gas
Battle lines

Loukanikos was raised in the alternative area of Athens, Exarchia, and this is where he hung out day to day. A group of high school students decided to make a video of him after they observed his slightly unusual pastime of joining the demonstrators and the film  went on to win the 150th Film Festival of Olympia for Children and Young People in December 2012. Here’s the film in Greek but it is easy to watch and pick up for those who don’t speak the language:

Time magazine’s editors voted Loukanikos ‘person’ of the year (2011) and the lovely photo montage here show his various appearances – the photos really capture this street dog’s determined and rebellious personality.

He also made it into to international media including the Washington Post and the BBC wrote of Loukanikos: “One committed protester was at the front line when Greek police fired teargas at protesters outside parliament on Wednesday. The dog, thought to be a stray called Loukanikos, or Sausage, has been in the centre of the action for years.”

A bar in Madrid, Spain, has even been named after him and pictures of Loukanikos at various events all over the city are hung on the walls for all to admire.

Loukanikos was adopted in 2012 and retired from his glory days. Some reports suggest that he
has since passed away while others say he is enjoying his well earned retirement and living in the lap of luxury.

Despite being out of the limelight, Loukanikos’s freedom fighting spirit lives on in Athens and he serves as an ambassador to all of the stray animals roaming the streets. Thanks to this remarkable dog, with a larger than life personality, many people have a new found respect for street animals and they appreciate that like Loukanikos, even the voiceless have rights
and can and will stand up and be counted. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Why we need home-grown expertise in Greece

By Anna Stamatiou

Greek volunteers vets working with the support
of Animal Action/GAWF. April 2013.
GAWF Animal/Action has historically relied on expertise from the UK.  Our trusted professional partners have, over the years, helped to build the image of thorough knowledge, high standards and unselfish commitment to animal welfare that the organisation now enjoys.  This is of inestimable value, and something we are justly proud of.  Vets, farriers, equine dentists, veterinary nurses and even our office staff have all to a lesser or greater extent in the past been trained in the UK.  Recently we have been deliberately moving to change this… why?
We know that in order for the way animals are regarded (and therefore treated) to change radically across every level of Greek society, the animal welfare message has to be embraced by the Greek public.  If that is to happen, we have gradually to withdraw anything that feels like “foreign” support and encourage the Greeks to take on the issues and deal with them for themselves. 

That is why we have regularly sent Greek professionals to train in the UK, honing and adding to the skills they already have, so that we can work with them when they return and allow them, through the practical, hands-on work they do, to communicate the idea that animal welfare is not something only crazy foreigners care about. 
But we can’t train enough people, fast enough.  That means we must build a local, home grown network of professionals that appreciate the need for our high standards and aim continually to improve their practice and add to their knowledge.  This is what we have been aiming for of late but the process is not without its risks and drawbacks. 

Initially good supervision and guidance are needed.  One difficulty that has been put in our way is the attitude of the Greek government towards the use of foreign vets…  Although on paper they may come and practice, there are so many hoops for them to jump through, that in effect it is not practical to use them – at least not if we want to remain within the law.  This means we cannot derive the benefit of their skills and experience while working in the field, and our Greek colleagues miss out on potential learning opportunities.
Then, Greek vets and their professional body do not want to see volunteers from overseas coming in and offering their services at low or no cost.  They believe this takes away their customers and undermines their position and their fee structures.  So they are inclined to report any activity of this kind to the authorities, in an effort to stop it. 

Now, one of the principal funding bodies in the UK, which used to support GAWF/Animal Action’s work most generously, has decided that, in the face of government and professional intransigence and lack of cooperation, it will, with immediate effect, suspend all its funding for welfare work in Greece.  That should send a loud message to the government and the professional body concerned, but in fact we do not have the impression that anyone is really taking any notice.  The way they see it, it’s just another case of the foreigners trying to tell the Greeks how to run their country. 

Nevertheless, there are also positive signs, one of which is the recent formation of an association of Greek volunteer vets, and we are making headway in building strong local partnerships that are constantly under review.  With these, we will spread our work and messages deeper than ever into Greek society until the idea of mistreating or neglecting the needs of any animal becomes as repugnant in Greece as it was to our founder, Eleanor Close, over 50 years ago.

Monday, 22 April 2013

A permanent vet surgery for Paxos Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) on Paxos.

By Lindsay Geddes

Whilst holidaying in Paxos in 2005, I was saddened to see so many stray cats and no veterinary services on the island to take care of the situation. To my surprise, the mayor agreed to my ideas to help improve animal welfare and PAWS was created.
Lindsay and PAWS volunteers with the Mayor of Paxos

In the beginning our main concern was to offer regular veterinary services together with a sterilisation programme. Starting from scratch, we took advice from UK vets about what basic drugs and equipment to buy. We compiled a much longer list than anticipated and shipped out boxes of supplies by courier or carried excess baggage whenever we travelled.
We advertised on the WVS website for vets and nurses and fortunately received a very positive response. Many of our volunteers have made return visits and two of our current vet teams have been volunteering for PAWS for 5 years.

During a recent neutering trip with GAWF/Animal Action
Although we have the use of a garden flat in Gaios which we set up as a temporary surgery, PAWS has been striving to obtain a suitable building that we can convert to a permanent clinic. We were therefore delighted in 2012 when the mayor and municipality agreed to give us a building in Magazia as permanent premises. During the winter of 2012/13, these premises have been cleared and renovation work started.

Residents of Paxos have come together to work on this project and the imagination and innovation of some of the volunteers has been amazing. To find a rusty old BBQ and convert this into a surgery trolley beggared belief but the pictures don't lie!

Above: the rusty BBQ before
Below: transformed into a surgery trolley
Once the work has been completed in the next month, new anaesthetic equipment and surgical supplies will be ordered so that PAWS can expand its services to operate safely on dogs. This will be a great step forward for animal welfare on Paxos as currently travelling to Corfu by boat to seek veterinary care is far from ideal.

 As part of our fund raising activities, Lucy Davis (whose parents live on Paxos), Lindsay (the director of PAWS) and Graham (a PAWS volunteer) are taking part in Action Challenge events at the end of May and June respectively. We hope to raise as much money as possible so as to be able to satisfactorily fund the new surgery. Donations can be made via Just Giving.
For more information and photos on all of the above please see our website at 
And of course please come and visit us when on holiday in Paxos!
PAWS is one of the animal welfare societies in Greece supported by GAWF/Animal Action Greece.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Why Greek Animals? By Lucy Westmore, Head of UK Operations, GAWF

Whilst fundraising at Brighton train station, a young man approached me to put some money in my collecting tin and asked

‘why the GREEK Animal Welfare Fund, is it really that bad over there?’

Sadly the answer is yes and, due to the dire economic situation in Greece right now, GAWF is needed more than ever. Animals have become the latest victims of the financial crisis as they are neglected and often turned out onto the street when people can longer afford to keep them. Luckily GAWF/Animal Action is there to step in and help. Here’s a little bit about how and why we became the Greek Animal Welfare Fund…

Back in 1959, a British woman, Eleanor Close, moved to Greece with her husband and was shocked by scenes of animal abuse and neglect that confronted her. Sick and starving dogs and cats roaming the streets; bony dogs in hospital laboratories waiting their turn to take part in cruel experiments; exhausted horses and donkeys at the end of their working lives - abandoned to fend for themselves because they were no longer useful and abattoirs using medieval practices in the slaughter of animals.  The list goes on.

Mrs Close quickly set up a working group of Greek, English and American women and their aim was to change the way people viewed animals but above all, to improve their lives. 

Over the decades that followed, GAWF made dramatic inroads and supported hundreds of local welfare groups, fundraised for veterinary equipment and medicines and donated these, neutered and treated countless animals, gave grants and emergency funding to those in desperate need and launched a national education drive to raise awareness of the needs of animals – to name just a few of our activities.

Today, we are continuing the work Mrs Close began, reinvigorated and with as strong a will as ever, always with the same aim:  to improve the welfare of all animals in Greece. 

GAWF now operates in Greece as Animal Action (because the Action happens in Greece and we Fund the work from the UK).  We believe in working within Greece to find practical and sustainable solutions to animal welfare problems and each year we help thousands of animals. We have seen a vast improvement in the way people treat animals in the 50+ years GAWF has been active and we are certain we will continue to see more positive results as we look to the future.

Mrs. Close
So - going back to the guy at the train station - I told him that GAWF is absolutely essential for the animals in Greece and we do need a charity working specifically for them.  Sadly, Mrs Close is no longer with us but I often wonder whether she ever imagined what an amazing and lasting legacy she would leave.

Greece is a beautiful country and it is often only ignorance that is responsible for the poor treatment of animals. By working with the people in Greece, in a way that shows them the benefit of treating animals compassionately, we are seeing real changes. So do holiday there, and have a fantastic time safe in the knowledge that GAWF will be there for the animals all year round, and for as long as they need us.

You can help us care for animals in Greece. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The importance of neutering

Stray cats and dogs are abundant in Greece, and it is not uncommon to see large groups of them in the streets. This is even more evident in built-up areas, where animals can often be seen congregating near restaurants and in parks.

However, while on the surface you see a group of cute animals relaxing, there lurks a deeper problem underneath. Most of these animals are condemned to a life on the streets – constantly scavenging for food, and often suffering from starvation or disease. When a stray is injured, it has no one to look after it, meaning it may spend the rest of its life with a broken or infected leg, or suffer a painful death as a consequence of the injury.

Tragically, it isn’t uncommon for us to come across unwanted kittens and puppies dumped in litter bins, scared and left to die.

What can we do?

The good news is that the stray problem can be dealt with effectively, with simple neutering programmes. By stopping the stray population from spiralling out of the control, over time the number of strays on the streets is greatly reduced. This mean fewer animals living on the streets, struggling to find food. It also takes the strain off undernourished mothers, who are too weak to care for large numbers of offspring. Neutering also causes males to become less aggressive and less likely to get into fights with other animals, which could lead to injury.
Happy and neutered

GAWF helps in two ways:

• Organising neutering programmes – we work to neuter strays in specific areas, after which they are released back into to the same area. This generally prevents new animals from colonising in the area and reproducing.
• Education – we work with the local communities, showing them how to look after strays and ensure that stray populations do not get out of control. We find that in areas where the community looks after the street animals, incidents of cruelty and poisoning are rare.

How can you help?

Your donations help fund the neutering programmes, and give us the resources we need to educate local communities. We work with friendly vets and have managed to get the cost of neutering right down to just £30. Your donations are vitally needed and together we can:
• Reduce illness in strays, by vaccinating them
• Prevent animals from starving, by controlling their populations
• Ease the strain on undernourished mothers, who are too weak to care for their offspring
• Reduce cruelty towards strays by educating local communities
• Treat injured, ill, or poisoned animals who would otherwise have no one to look after them.
Please donate today, and make a difference to the lives of these beautiful, innocent animals. Thank you. For more about our neutering programme click here.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Taking the law into their own hands

By Anna Stamatiou

The economic crisis is having far-reaching consequences at all levels of Greek society.  In the field of animal welfare it is clear that less weight is being given to all kinds of issues.  It has almost become politically incorrect to demand of the police that they should spend increasingly scarce resources to prosecute animal abusers, check on conditions for animals in transit, attend a report of a permanently tethered dog… or seek to identify and bring to justice a neighbourhood poisoner.

English: It's only a matter of time until we find you
 Ordinary, caring citizens as well as committed welfare activists have become enraged by the state’s failures, and this has led to increasing incidents of direct action, or vigilantism.  Graffiti have been appearing at the entrances to buildings where poisoners are thought to live.  These scrawled messages can be as nasty and threatening as those that the UK saw in 2000 when the News of the World “named and shamed” individuals thought to be guilty of child abuse, and baying mobs gathered outside the houses of sometimes innocent people in the city of Portsmouth. 

 This trend means that normally law-abiding people are being driven to behave in illegal ways (making threats and defacing property) and that the potentially innocent may be wrongly accused and persecuted.  It must be hell for the residents of the affected apartment blocks. 
Why do people go out and poison strays in the first place?  Online welfare sites in Greece are full of purple language fulminating against the “perverts” and “psychos” that carry out indiscriminate poisoning.   I have never seen any attempt at a balanced assessment of motivations other than these, and until there is one the root causes of such illegal and barbaric acts will never be successfully addressed.  Why, can’t the welfare community sensibly discuss the problems that both strays and owned cats and dogs can cause?  What about the poo-covered pavements?  The endless all night barking of confined dogs?  Attacks by packs or bad-tempered individual dogs on both pets and people?  The strewing of stinky detritus all over the street when rubbish bags are torn open by scavenging animals?  The fear of communicable disease that is only strengthened by the sight of unkempt, unhealthy-looking animals?

English: Murderer of animals - we have found you
Greece needs to deal with the problem of its strays in a more honest and focussed way… numbers need to be managed, and dangerous dogs should be taken off the street permanently.  Neutering helps with this but it isn’t a complete solution.  In an ideal world there would be no strays at all on the streets.  Tolerating even low numbers of them communicates the wrong message:  “It is okay for cats and dogs that no one takes responsibility for to be here”.  Actually, no, it’s not.  All cats and dogs should be owned and taken responsibility for, they should be properly cared for in sickness and in health for the whole of their lives, and prevented from causing nuisance and from producing unwanted litters of kittens and pups.  Until Greek society “gets it” incidents of mass poisonings look likely to continue.  

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

GAWF Equine Project

GAWF’s Equine Project was started in 1999, with the goal of alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys and mules in Greece.

Working equines are common in Greece, and their numbers have increased in recent years. Rising unemployment has resulted in many workers relocating from cities to more rural areas, where equines are frequently used for agriculture. In less developed of Greece where there are no roads, equines are sometimes the only means of transporting produce around.

These rural areas often lack the vital resources required to keep equines healthy and happy, such as local farriers (hoof care specialists), dental technicians and vets. 

In addition, many owners are unaware of the how to care for their animals, or they simply don’t realise the level of maintenance they require.  Common problems we come across are:

  • Hobbling - restrictive binding of the animal's legs, to prevent it from wandering too far. Unbeknownst to a lot of owners, this can cause pain and serious health problems such as fractures, dislocations and tendon injuries
  • Severe tendonitis, bruised soles and foot abscesses.
  • Overgrown, twisted or diseased hooves - often a result of heavy work on hard ground, or overfeeding. Again, owners often do not know how to spot these afflictions.
  • Dental problems - left unchecked, equines can develop sharp edges on their molars, which cut their mouths and make eating difficult. This can develop into severe health problems, pain, and even death from starvation or blood loss if an artery is severed.
  • Birth problems - just like humans, equines can develop life threatening problems during birth. When a trained vet is not present, there are risks for both mother and baby.

It is vital for the health and well-being of working equines in Greece that we are able to give care directly to these animals, and educate people on how to look after them. 

Taking Action
In the early days, we found that people were wary of our motives and suspicious of our credentials. How were people to know that we wouldn’t damage their animal’s feet and leave it lame and unable to work for weeks? Over time, we demonstrated that we have all the necessary training, professionalism and qualifications to help these animals, and we have built up a name that is well known and trusted throughout Greece.

How does GAWF help?
Your donations help by funding GAWF to:
  • advise and instruct owners on how to care for their animals
  • send outreach teams (usually an equine farrier, vet  and equine dentist) to visit equines
  • offer treatment to over 1,250 equines every year, including 100’s of life-saving procedures
  • train Greek veterinary students and fund courses for them in Greece and the UK
  • provide instructional materials and training guides for those working in the field.
Please help us to continue by donating on our website. We desperately need funds to continue our Equine Project, so we can not only prevent equine suffering, but ensure that many poor people in Greece are able to make a living during the economic slump.