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Animal Welfare in Greece:

 

From convincing locals of the benefits of neutering animals to rescuing animals in appalling conditions of neglect and trying to persuade local authorities to act against the mass poisoning of animals, we have realised that all our animal welfare work would come to nought without an attempt to try to change social and cultural attitudes towards animals. We have developed a comprehensive programme to educate and inform about animal welfare. However we desperately need funding and voluteers to help us implement this programme. If anyone is interested in helping PAWS in this way, please contact us immediately. We consider this a vital part of our work. In the meantime we present our education programme which would consist of:

 

School visits: However there now exist organisations in Greece dedicated solely to educating school children about animals and all they require is the cost of their stay and transport to our area as well as a scheduled slot in the school program. PAWS would raise funds to support visits to local schools by such educational groups and also contact the local school authorities to arrange this.

Children's events: We may also find other means of reaching local kids. One idea would be to organise events for children during the summer vacations. Ideally we would collaborate with an amateur theatrical group who would create a programme specifically for educating children. This could include a short play or a puppet show, games, contests and prizes. All this with loving and caring for animals as a theme. PAWS role in this would be as a sponsor for such events which ideally would take place in different villages of Pelion. If this is possible, we would need to set aside a budget for this. This would be an entirely new project whose potential we would have to investigate and if viable, develop.

 

Animal welfare as part of a “new” Pelion: Besides children we must also try to change prevalent attitudes towards animals in the local adult population. The most effective means would be to show local business owners and local authorities that a healthy and well cared for population of strays could actually be very beneficial for tourism. It is a well known fact that Greece has a terrible reputation amongst animal lovers who come here hoping for an idyllic vacation and find instead terrible scenes of starving animals, drowned puppies, sick and injured strays, phenomenon like the “variloskilo” (barrel dogs) who are chained up their entire lives with a rusty barrel (if anything) for shelter. The list is endless. Pelion however has the advantage of being a very particular area of Greece in that much of its nature is still unspoiled. It has never been a destination for mass tourism, hence its coastal villages have been spared the devastating effects of over construction, its verdant forests are still intact and its beaches pristine. If Pelion reinvented itself as an alternative tourist destination and merely packaged what it already has in abundance, it could be an economic model for the rest of Greece. Tourism has already dropped massively due to cheaper destinations with the same amenities (sun and sea) like Turkey and Albania. It would be impossible to compete on these grounds therefore it is logical to find alternatives. Part of Pelion's new “green” image that we believe would be a strong selling point would be if the stray animal population was healthy, fed and neutered! If the local authorities saw what is written in forums about Greece, how much horror and scorn is evoked by animal lover vacation makers, they would quickly realize that as bad publicity spreads like wild fire online, so could good...

 

Working with local businesses: animal friendly establishments: We need therefore a two tiered program, one part working at the grass roots levels directed at taverna, pension and hotel and other tourist establishment owners and the other directed at the local authorities. We could create a directory of “animal friendly” establishments whereby animals are tolerated and within reasonable limits, well treated. These establishments would display “PAWS animal friendly” stickers and table cards and we would actively encourage tourists to support our cause by patronizing these places.

Dialogue with the local authorities: We would also need to create a voice with the local authorities,to bring them examples of how the terrible plight of stray animals has a real and negative impact upon tourism. If we could persuade them of this perhaps they would endorse our grass roots program and all of our other activities. It would be a perhaps an important shift in perceptions.