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Animal Welfare in Greece:

We regard the sterilization of stray animals as a fundamental part of our animal welfare work in Pelion. Huge colonies of diseased and starving animals only means that they will eventually be poisoned, especially in tourist areas that need to be "cleaned up" to receive each season's visitors. On the other hand, a controlled population of healthy cats in villages could be accepted and indeed, welcomed. 

Luckily cat sterilizations are quite simple in that the animals do not need more then one day of post operative care. Males can be neutered in 5 minutes and females receive a very small incision in an operation that lasts about 20 minutes. Each cat is given pain relief and anitibiotics that last for three days. They are also given an application of SpotOn Frontline to counteract fleas and ticks. Once they have recovered from the anesthesia, they are given food and water and kept overnight in a warm place. The morning after, they are released in the same area where they were trapped or picked up. This fast recovery period and short operating time means that it is possible to capture large numbers of animals and neuter them one after another. It is hard work that requires much organisation and many volunteers but it is time and cost efficient. If one considers that if 2 cats and their offspring are allowed to breed for 10 years (assuming a survival rate of 2.8 cats per litter) they would eventually produce 80,399,780 cats at the end of the tenth year, then it is certainly worthwhile work!

Please note that all the animals that we neuter are stray or feral and are trapped specifically for neutering by teams of volunteers. Our sterilization programme is not directed at pet owners although we help and encourage responsible spay and neutering with information and recommendations to the experienced vets that we work with.

Cat sterilization events: In March of 2011 we began sterilizing cats intensively with the help of Greek Cat Welfare Society who sent us vets for 3-4 days each time. Our learning curve was very steep and by our third event we managed to neuter 82 cats over 4 days with the help of 2 vets. Our cat sterilization programme is thus quite well developed and we plan to continue this work.
 
Annual goal: Our previous experience has shown us that right now it would be most efficient to attempt to sterilize 100 cats at each event - which will be scheduled 4 times per year - making our annual goal of 400 cats to be sterilized each year.
 

Cat sterilization clinic: Right now our cat sterilization events are organised at the homes of volunteers and we are dependant on finding someone willing to help us in this way each time. We are currently working on having a centre of operations where we would keep all equipment like traps and cages and have a simple clinic for the operations. This centre would be our base for future cat neutering events in South Pelion. For villages outside of this area, we would help groups or individuals organise such events by providing them with the equipment, supplies and the vets.

Sterilization programme and education: The sterilization programme is also a vital component of the education programme. When we first started neutering animals intensively with ALSP we were met with resistance. People accused us of killing animals at worst, and depriving cats of the “pleasure of sex” at best. Interestingly enough we found men much more negative towards the idea of sterilization, women are much more pragmatic. After the first successful cat neutering event though, the change in attitude was immediate. Word spread and we started getting calls from people in different villages. Local politicians asked when the next vets were arriving! At our last cat neutering we were inundated with requests from all over Pelion. Our trappers were stopped by local residents who feed large colonies of strays and who insisted on donating to our cause. This is a far cry from two years ago when one of our volunteers was sent packing from a Greek household for daring to suggest neutering! As they say in Greece “siga siga” slowly slowly, the tide of opinion turns.