If you have ever been to Greece – land of sun, sea and ancient mythology – you will have noticed the stray cats and dogs wherever you go. There are, in fact, over 20,000 of them. Some of them are well fed by the community and roam the streets freely; others are neglected, abandoned and abused. The combination of limited resources for unwanted pets, lack of a clear policy and action by the government and cultural beliefs about neutering has contributed to the problem. Although things are improving with animal associations raising awareness and putting pressure on municipalities to reform – a lack of funds is part of the problem. Animal cruelty awareness has a long way to go in Greece; however, the tide is turning with an increase in the number of animal associations who are doing valuable work in the community. Adopting a rescue dog from Greece is easier than ever.
Abandoned puppies on the side of a road are, unfortunately, quite common in Greece. The sterilization of dogs, especially working, is not a common occurrence. Cultural beliefs that neutering is unnatural and that animals should be free to procreate, exorbitant vet fees and lack of awareness all contribute. Often, litters of sheepdog puppies are abandoned on the side of a road if the owners are unable to take care of them. They can be seen almost everywhere in Greece. Should you choose to pick one up, it is a good idea to take it to a local vet who will help you through the process of micro-chipping, vaccinating and getting your dog ready for the trip to its new home. Don’t forget its siblings. You could try to find a shelter or rescue center for them. Your new pet could be ready to leave within 21days.
Animal Adoption Organizations in Greece
There are a number of shelters and adoption agencies in Greece that have been set up by both local privates and expats living in Greece to try to address the problem. Many of these initiatives are charities and self-funded endeavors. Greece is becoming an increasingly popular place to adopt a dog from and the process is fairly simple. Many rescue organizations in Greece have ‘Pet Chauffers’ who will fly over your new-found friend for you if you are based in Europe. It is also possible to adopt older dogs from these agencies and most of them have excellent websites with photos of the dogs that are up for adoption. These organizations are usually run by passionate animal lovers who will be delighted to find you a dog. While you are on holiday you can visit and bond with your dog before the journey home. All of the main cities have these kinds of agencies and many of the islands do too.
To take your dog out of the country, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have your dog microchipped – this tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, is your dog’s permanent I.D. It can also be used to locate you if your pet is lost and picked up and taken to a local vet or animal shelter.
- Vaccinations – Once fitted with a microchip, your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. The length of the waiting period after vaccinations is usually 21 days. Puppies younger than 3 months, may be permitted to travel without the vaccination in accordance with each country’s conditions, which should be checked with your embassy.
- Pet Passport – If from Europe, get a European pet passport which will contain details of your dog’s vaccinations, the microchip number, a description of the dog and your details as the dog’s owner. If your pooch’s new home will be outside the EU, more procedures are probably necessary. Again, the staff at the rescue agency will be able to help you with the details.
- Parasite treatment – Some countries insist on getting treatment for tapeworm and other parasites. Even if not required, it is an excellent idea to get this treatment, usually in the form of a pill as some types of parasites are transferrable to humans.
Once chips, paperwork and vaccinations are in order, it’s time to take your new pet home. If you have left your stray in Greece to wait out the 21 days for the rabies shot, you can make use of pet travel services and Pet Chauffeurs in the location of the adoption. If you choose to do it yourself, you will need to check with the airlines and airports of all your connecting flights about their policy on travelling with a dog. Usually the dog can be checked in as carry-on luggage or freight, depending on size. You might need a special airline-approved kennel for the trip. Make sure you have enough travel provisions, like dog food and water and sanitary products. Flights can be delayed or canceled so it’s good to be prepared.
Once you have made it home, be sure to contact the regional animal health officials to make sure you comply with all your local pet laws.
The love and devotion of a rescue dog is profound. Make a difference today and adopt a stray!
Skiathos (Sporades Islands)
Santorini (Cyclades Islands)
Corfu (Ionian islands)
Zakynthos (Ionian Islands)
Rhodes (Dodecanese Islands)