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Animal Welfare in Greece:

Saphira was originally named Tulla when we found her. Her story is best told in a series of emails that I wrote to animal lovers appealing for help. There are five updates over a period of three months. It's a long story but I promise you, the ending is worth it!

Email 1: 17th February 2010

Saphira/Tulla when we first found her.
Hello all,

This is to keep everyone informed about Tulla. Most of you will know that she was sighted the 10th of Febuary on the main road of Milina-Trikeri. She was horribly thin and desperately hungry, yet still had the strength to come running and wagging her tail when I stopped to feed her. With Sharon's help, an email was sent out to people in the area to keep an eye open for her. The vague plan was to somehow set up a feeding schedule for her as she is not easy to find. Sylvie of Animal Lovers of South Pelion then had the brilliant idea of homing her temporarily with Manolis. Miraculously, the very next day Liv and Tony found her, Sharon contacted Manolis and by mid-day she was fed and sheltered!

Now the update part: Sylvie and I visited Manolis yesterday (Tuesday Feb 16) and saw Tulla. She is MUCH better and now sports a round little tummy, quite incongruent with her ribs and pelvis still showing through her fur. That is because Manolis gives her all the food that she wants for now, in part to help her get over her food anxiety. She happily goes to anyone who will give her a pet.

The plan is to house her with Manolis for two months. In this time she will also have her vaccinations and be spayed. We are hoping that she will be adopted here in Greece but as there is only a slim chance of this we are prepared to send her a German charity that we have the privilege of working with. She is already on their website inspite of their waiting list. This is because the lady who runs the charity was moved by Tulla's plight and the pictures of her starving body.

Liv has sent an appeal to virtually adopt this dog. Some people have pledged 2 euros a week, which is great! I would like to inform everyone that this will not be a permanent situation, we have a very speci
fic time line here, the two months that I mentioned before. Manolis has very generously made a further reduction and will charge 150 euros a month for Tulla, bringing her upkeep to a total of 300 euros. There will also be costs for her flight to Germany if she is to be sent there, her vaccinations and sterilization and pet passport.

I would now like to appeal to animal lovers to please help with Tulla's expenses. Anything will be appreciated. Those who have pledged 2 euros a week now know that this will only be for two months, so it will be 16 euros in total. Any other donations will be SOOO appreciated!

Another way of helping would be if anyone would like to foster Tulla till she goes to Germany or is adopted. Any period of time, from 2 weeks to a month would help save money. We would provide food so that it will not cost anything. Anyone else who would like to participate/help via donation or fostering please send me an email:

Please also let me know if you would like your donation to be anonymous.

I will take it upon myself to send updates regularly to all who help Tulla. I will also provide an account of all donations and Tulla's final expenses. In the unlikely event that the donations exceed the costs,
everyone will be contacted and asked if they would like the remaining returned or donated to ALSP to help other animals.

PLEASE PLEASE help if you can. Tulla is 6-10 months old, utterly sweet and docile and gets along well with other dogs and of course, humans. She deserves better than a life of starvation and repeated pregnancies if she had survived on her own.

Thank you and a very Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger to all!



Email 2: March 3rd 2010

Hello Tulla supporters,

Just to let everyone know how Tulla is doing.

She was vaccinated on Monday and checked over by the vet. She is in good condition, although we were a little concerned that she is not putting on as much weight as she should be, considering the amounts of food that she is fed. Anyway, we have coordinated to deworm her along with the two other dogs with which she shares her play area. Her lymphatic nodes show no signs of abnormal swelling which means that she does not have a more serious disease.

I also got her an Excalibur collar in anticipation of the warm weather (against the dreaded carrier of Kalazar) and applied Frontline against flleas and ticks. She is a wonderfully happy and affectionate dog and is very strong and muscular in spite of her still being slightly thin.

Our next step is deworming, then she will be spayed with ALSP's neutering program. In one month she will have the rest of her jabs. Hopefully she'll find a good home soon. It's funny, you could call her just an ordinary Greek hunting dog (although they DO have their own recognized breed: Ellinikos Ichnilatis) of which she is a very fine specimen, but there is something about her so utterly huggable, it makes her

I keep forgetting to take photos but when I go to deworm her I'll take some. A far cry from her original sad pics.

Once again, thanks for your continued support of Tulla.


Email 3 March18th 2010

Hi everyone,

I have more news about Tulla. Unfortunately it is a little sad:

On March 15th Tulla was brought to be spayed. She had been vaccinated and looked over by a vet 10 days before and had been considered OK. However, during the operation, some excessive bleeding prompted a subsequent blood test. It revealed that Tulla has Kalazar, or canine Leishamaniasis.

This really blows our plans out of the water because it utterly reduces her chances of being adopted. The vet said that the disease is only in its beginning stages. Her inability to put on much weight is thus explained. I have decided to treat her with the latest drug protocol for the disease. It is very expensive, but it is the best treatment as it does not damage the renal system, has very few side effects and has a good clinical cure rate.

This means that Tulla NEEDS to find a home. She cannot be released again as even if she achieves a clinical cure, she will need an annual blood test to ensure against a relapse or reinfection. If this happens and she is a stray, she will die a very slow and horrible death and she could also infect other healthy animals in the area. If she is in a home though, any relapse can be retreated or controlled by a medical regime. Precautions can be taken against her infecting other animals by making her wear a Dermetrin collar and keeping her in a sheltered area at dawn and dusk during the warm months when the sand fly that transmits this disease is most active.

Unfortunately the cost of keeping her in the pension indefinitely is prohibitive. I had hoped that Tulla would be flying to a new home in Germany by June the 6th. However it now depends on some person with a heart adopting her, knowing her condition.

I am very distressed to have to say that if Tulla does not find a home by this time she will have to be put down. This would really be a pity as she could live a long and happy life, even with Kalazar. Modern medicine can keep this disease well under control, if it is not cured by the first phase of therapy.

So far Tulla has been vaccinated, dewormed and spayed. She has received anti flea and tick treatment and has a Dermetrin collar. By June I estimate that her expenses will have reached around 900 euros, including her therapy. It would be an utter waste if she eventually has to be put down, as she is not in pain and can still lead a normal life. The expenses is the least of it, she is simply a valiant and affectionate dog that deserves to lead a better life than what she has had till now.

I am now quite sure that she was originally dumped when her previous owner noticed her weight loss
and threw her out so that she would not infect the rest of her "pack", She is a fine example of a Greek hunting dog (Ellinikos Ichniliatos) and probably belonged to a hunter before.This was simply cruel and irresponsible. Cruel to Tulla and irresponsible to other healthy animals in the area.

Tulla is now recovering from her surgery. She was rather poorly and refused to eat till today when she was tempted by chicken in broth. Hopefully she will recover shortly and we can begin her therapy.

Thank you everyone for your continued support. Please forward this email and the original updates to any animal lover whom you think might be moved by Tulla's plight. We have to find a home for her!

Best regards,
Vida Chung

Email 4 April 15th 2010

Hello every one,

I have the most wonderful news regarding Tulla. She has found a home!

The amazing thing is that she did it all herself...

This morning I was supposed to pick Tulla up from Manolis to bring her to Volos to see the vet to follow up on her illness but I heard from Manolis that she could not be found. Apparently she'd gone for a walk with some hikers passing through Manolis's place yesterday and still had not returned.

At 11 I get a call from Liv, who says that there is "a little brown dog who looks just like Tulla at the corner of the chapel of Ayios Andreas and the main road to Trikeri, could it be her?" Of course it was so we hopped into our car to go get her.

Liv had mentioned something about someone wanting to adopt her and I was so excited I was almost stuttering! We get there and see Tulla on a leash with two guys and Liv. Heinz has a house in Ayios Andreas and apparently, Tulla had shown up last evening and spent the night at his place. She won his heart when she covered his face with licks when he let her in! That's her affectionate nature for you. Anyway, when Heinz heard of Tulla's plight (Kala Azar, possible euthanasia if no home can be found) he decided to adopt her on the spot. Bless the man!

Since he does not live here permanently I asked what he would do with Tulla when he travels to Germany and he said that she would travel back and forth with him. Bless the man again! He also has experience with dogs, having had 4 in Germany.

I am now going to arrange for all of us to visit the vet next week together so that he can meet the vet who is treating Tulla. We will still be covering her initial medical costs because the meds can be quite expensive and we don't want to scare Heinz away!

I will update again next week with photos of Tulla and Heinz, news of her state of health and make a final tally of all her expenses vs. the donations. Thank you everyone for your support of Tulla. It was with a very heavy heart that I wrote the last update, now I am utterly delighted to be able to give such good news!

By the way, Tulla is now called Saphira, a glamorous name for a jewel of a dog!


Email 5 April 19th 2010

Hi everyone,

As promised here is the final update and tally on Tulla, now called Saphira.

First I will tell you all that that naughty girl disappeared from Heinz's place on Saturday. He looked all over for her, to no avail. When I heard about it, I sent an SMS to Manoli, whose pension is in the same area. I would not have been unduly worried since she tends to wander, except that over the weekend they had poisoned at least two cats in the area and shot another. Heinz was frantic.

Today Monday though, Manoli calls bright and early with the good news that Saphira has shown up at his place! We arrange for him to drop her off at Liv and Tony's (could not describe where Heinz lives). He very kindly brings her there and Liv also very kindly brings Saphira to Heinz. From all accounts it was a lovely reunion!

If ever I had any doubts about if Heinz would love Saphira and take care of her properly they were utterly dispelled when I SMSed him with the good news of Saphira. The message I got back from him was: "Oh my God. Super, super, super. I am so happy. Thank you."
Anyway, we make it to our vet appointment in Volos. Nikos examines her closely, performs the last of the vaccinations and takes blood for another test for Leishmania. Of course you will all recall that her last test had been positive for the disease. However, the rest of the parameters were perfect. So we thought to

repeat the test in order to establish a proper baseline for treatment.

Amazingly the test is NEGATIVE. You cannot imagine how we celebrated! How is this possible? Well, Nikos explained that the last test could have been a false positive. She could also have cleared the disease herself or with the drugs that she had already been taking. She could have the disease but it could be so incipient that there are not enough antibodies produced yet to confirm.
To be certain, Saphira will be tested again in a month. We cross our fingers that she will once again show negative. Even if not though, she has an excellent prognosis now that she has a good owner and home and is under supervision. Of course she now has all the precautions of pesticide collar and Advantix ampoule against bugs and the dreaded sand fly that transmits Leishmania. She also sleeps indoors at nights.

Heinz tells me that he has a house in the country with a big piece of land in the countryside in Germany. He has already sent Saphira's photo to his daughter and she can't wait to meet her! He is very gentle and affectionate with Saphira who fully reciprocates. I could not have hoped for a better person to take Saphira in. I'm still wallowing in delight...
Anyway, here is the final tally:

62 days Manoli's pension: 310 euros
Vaccinations: 25 euros
Spaying: 70 euros
2 topical treatments for bugs: 20 euros
1 Scalibor collar: 16 euros
1 Blood test: 25 euros
1 box of Allopurinol: 4 euros
Total: 470 euros

Donations: 105 euros

I do not have specific permission to specify how much each donor gave so it will just be the total: 105 euros

I offered to pay for today's vet visit and blood test but Heinz would not hear of it. That's how much he loves her already!

I feel that we got off lightly as far as Saphira's expenses go as we were expecting to have to board her for much longer and pay for an expensive treatment for Kala Azar.

En fin, I leave you with two photos of Saphira, the first is from a week ago at Manoli's (isn't she cute?), the second is at the vet today with her new dad, Heinz. Look at his expression!

Thank you all for your great support, this has been an odyssey of sorts but it has a happy ending. I'm still

grinning from the avalanche of good news.

Best regards,
Vida Chung

Update: Heinz brings Saphira regularly back to Greece as he visits each summer. Recently, he had to give Saphira to Liv and Toni because he no longer had a place to stay in Greece where he could keep a dog. Liv and Tony live in Ayios Andreas right by the sea and they both love Saphira dearly. Recently Liv sent me this picture of Saphira, flying across a field of daisies, looking happy and healthy....