| by Claire Kalemkeris & Nicolas Stephanou
The exciting thing about having a dog or cat is that they give you the privilege of their friendship and allow you to enter into a different type of social relationship, fundamentally a way to remind you of your connection to the greater animal kingdom. As with all friendships there are responsibilities that revolve around trust. Since these are not wild animals, setting them free can rarely lead to anything but their demise and ultimately is completely irresponsible. Unfortunately the island is not able to absorb all the new kittens and puppies created every season so we are encouraging people to seriously look at the most important weapon available to control the stray population and that is sterilization.
Here are a few pieces of information to dispel some myths and prejudices that are regrettably still going around: spaying and neutering is the primary way to get some control over this problem; without a serious commitment to this the community can look forward to a continuous stream of beleaguered cases.
If you are concerned about saving lives and curtailing the endless suffering in the local animal community, spay your pet before her first cycle, this will actually improve your pet's health and life expectancy. If you haven't been quick enough, female dogs and cats can be spayed even when they are pregnant. This can usually be done in Paros up until the first month. These surgeries can take longer, and therefore often cost more. Spaying before having the first litter or heat cycle is usually a simpler procedure. Neutering your male dog or cat prevents testicular tumours and may prevent prostate problems. Neutering also decreases the possibility of perianal tumours and hernias, which are commonly observed in older, unaltered dogs; most importantly you will be helping to improve the stray dog and cat problem.
If your pet has delivered and you have found no or very few responsible owners, please consider these other possibilities: expanding the reach of who they can find homes with by notifying more people or by using our web site. The web site should make a big leap forward by the end of July. If you cannot find a home as quickly as you might like please recognize your responsibility and don't believe that you will give them a chance for life by releasing them to the street; sadly you would become part of the problem, not the solution.
PAWS can only provide service if people participate on a volunteer basis. We are urgently looking for people who are interested to volunteer some time and or offer their space for a dog or cat to be temporarily housed while it recovers after surgery or is being prepared to leave for a new home. In essence you would provide temporary foster care for an animal sometimes for a couple of days which can extend in some cases up to a month. No one is interested in burdening every volunteer with lots of work. We are hoping ten to twenty people might be interested in being occasionally available to provide foster care. This method is a cost effective way to address the lack of an institutional space and allows many more people to be involved in the animal welfare of the island.
There have been a variety of locations provided by the mayor's office for a transfer recovery station. Honestly this will entail an enormous amount of work, arrangements are still in progress and a refurbishing funding campaign needs to be organized. So, to be succinct, we need help! It can be anything from walking a dog for a couple of hours, to taking pictures of the strays on the island, contributing to the research we are doing by working on a computer, travelling with an animal to Germany and bringing it to its new home, so many different ways to give back to the community. Please call and contribute. We really need people to come forward.
On a bright note, next month we will give you an update on a world music festival to raise money for PAWS. Hope we hear from you in person, on the phone, or by email soon. The only way this project can take wings and fly is if we hear from you.
Lots of animals need help and they are waiting.