| by Claire Kalemkeris, May 2005
The new PAWS board has been meeting and talking often in an effort to get up to speed.
Our first job has been to speak to the other organizations of the Cyclades to get a comprehensive picture of all the different efforts that have been undertaken to deal with abandonment and cruelty issues. Instead of re-inventing the wheel we want to learn from other organizations' successes and failures rather than presuming without investigating and wasting the limited time, energy, resources and goodwill of the community. We have discovered some eye-opening approaches; for example, on a number of islands the dimos (municipality) assumes financial responsibility for the veterinary services of spaying, neutering, micro chipping and parasite treatment of stray dogs. This one idea alone would completely transform the budget of PAWS, allowing resources to be focused on education, re-homing and many other efforts.
The virtue of PAWS's programme was the re-homing of stray animals which not all the islands have developed. We hope to continue and expand upon that work. Anyone interested in being involved on a re-homing team to lead a life of travel with dogs to places like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland please contact PAWS by telephone or email (see bellow). All the previous locations that were temporary hostels for strays on Paros are no longer available. Clearly the immediate problem will be where to bring the next influx of stray animals. In the past, leaving the burden to a few individuals became eventually overwhelming and they have all chosen to retire. Although a successful stopgap measure, clearly it is time to acquire some formal structure to address the issue.
I visited Syros to see the shelter built by the municipality and had some long talks with Dr George Rozos one of the veterinarians involved in their sterilization programme. Dr Rozos was a wealth of information and generously gave us lots of insights about the successes and failures of the various efforts on Syros. Some aspects of their programme would be a terrific benefit to us while other things had clearly mixed results. This type of dialogue is profoundly useful for many islands and suggests the benefit of having a dynamic web site where all this information can be shared. We are in the process of creating a bilingual site which will be a place where this ongoing research project will be gathered, as well as the re-homing effort and also listing of financial accounts, thus providing greater transparency in regards to the financial health of PAWS.
It's clear that stray dogs don't fall from the sky; they come from somewhere. Unfortunately that somewhere is usually private owners who have failed to sterilize their dogs, or people who are ill-equipped to take care of a dog after the adorable puppy stage is over and are at a loss as to what to do and so set them "free". Our hope is to focus attention on an aggressive education programme that explains the virtues of sterilization and responsible ownership. Obviously that needs to be connected to an equally aggressive ongoing sterilization programme. However that's not the entire story, we are considering inviting an obedience training programme based on positive reinforcement so that people could learn to handle their dogs in more productive ways and perhaps be less inclined to toss their dogs in the street when things don't work out. A benefit would be to alert more people to responsibilities of ownership and, again, sterilization.
Let me just quickly add that tick and flea season has returned which can be incredibly destructive pests if preventative measures are not taken. There are a wide variety of collars, sprays, powders and soaps which can protect your animal. Please use them. It can be the difference between life and death.
Looking forward to hearing from old members and anyone who is interested in becoming a new member, since we are starting our tenure with only 420 euros - so send money quickly so theory can become praxis.