| by Nicolas Stephanou & Claire Kalemkeris
PAWS is receiving a lot of phone calls these days from locals and visitors finding stray puppies or older dogs around their homes or in the rubbish bins. Another kind of phone call comes from the Town Hall about strays that have caused disturbances, somehow hoping that our small organization, run by just a handful of people, will be able to solve these "disturbances
As yet PAWS has not had any financial or other practical help from the Municipality and we are still waiting to receive funds agreed with them one year ago. These funds include the promised resources for veterinary expenses discussed in a previous article. The Municipality's view of the strays as a "disturbance" for which they currently seem unable to take any responsibility is, however, misleading. The reality is that stray animals left to roam and neglected - first by the individual who has abandoned them, and then by the local authorities - are fundamentally a municipal problem and a civic responsibility. PAWS is a volunteer organization that exists to encourage and enable solutions which prioritize humane results, including working with the Municipality to help them understand and take their share of responsibility.
The re-homing effort which we emphasize is particularly important because it is mutually beneficial both to the community and to each dog or cat that gets love and care for the rest of their lives, while the town is spared the problem of an unending stream of animals which, without intervention, often come to an unhappy and distressing end. These types of "disturbances", abandoned and mistreated animals, can tarnish the image of civic responsibility and tranquillity on this beautiful island.
It is clear that in such a small community, people voicing their concerns and affiliating themselves with organizations aimed at improving the quality of life on the island can make an important difference. We strongly encourage people who have the right to vote in municipal elections (see Paros Life, Feb 2005 edition, Exercise Your Rights!, for details on the simple steps required to register) to make use of this right. Citizens of the European Union are entitled to vote, as well as to stand as a candidate in local elections, under European union Directive 94/80/EC of 19 December 1994.
Animal welfare is just one of many civic issues that can be given greater leverage by people participating in the democratic process. These issues include concern for the environment, recycling programmes, better infrastructure - hospitals, schools, transport, safety and cultural development. By voting and by having an affiliation with one or more of the many volunteer organizations existing in the community you can make a real difference in the setting of priorities.
A lot of what seem to be small efforts can actually make a very big difference.
At PAWS we still urgently need the help of volunteers who can either give a little time or offer some space for a cat or dog on a temporary basis while it recovers from surgery or is waiting to go to a new home. Please contact us if you can help.