Help for the dogs in Elefsina
Moral courage of two teachers
In November 2009, we made a city trip to Athens. For the return flight we have been registrered for flight sponsoring. Finally a total of 4 animal welfare activists absorbed our help. Among these was Ria (by a German animal welfare organisation).
Our return flight should start on sunday. On friday evening a totally despaired Ria called us. Her veterinary made a mistake so that all EU passports for the domestic animals would be invalid. She now doesn't know how to get new passports. She already had to drive 160 km for these now invalid passports, because in her hometown, the placement of animals to Germany would have been declined.
There, they believe, that in Germany they put dogs in the cooking pot or end in laboratory. They also believe that Germans make fur out of them. Actually it is better to let a dog die in Greece than to convey it to a Nazi-sofa.
The local veterinary is as well under pressure. So now she still examines Rias dogs, but she doesn' t issue any more passports. Due to our flight sponsoring, we had contacts to other animal welfare organisations, so we offered Ria to come Elefsina the next day and help her to get new passports. In this way we got to know the sisters Ria and Sofia Pantali and her mother.
Until the age of 14 and 15, Ria and Sofia have lived in Berlin with their greek parents. Today, both work as teachers in a secondary school in Elefsina. And both speak fluently German. Besides theirs jobs they victimise their whole live for animal welfare.
They established contacts to German animal welfare organisations and via them, they convey stray dogs in German families. At the beginning there was a huge problem: When they finally had found a family and flight sponsors for a dog, they often could not find it anymore on the street the day it should depart. Therefore they asked the mayor, wether he could provide an appropriate place for them.
After very long negotiations, they could build up en enclosure on a fallow land between the express highway of Athens and the military airport of Elefsina. Since they had to fund that with their own private ressurces, the enclosure conforms only basic requirements: On pure brickearth, small enclosures are seperated with netting wire.
Just few doghouses offer protection against heat, coldness and rain. But Sofia and a friend visit the enclosure every day. They clean it and supply the dogs with food and water afford runout for them that they do not become aggressive.
Meanwhile the enclosure is notorious so permanently new puppies were thrown over the fence. Ria and Sofia can hardly handle this flood of puppies. So it often happens that she can fly out some dogs to Germany, but when she comes back home, whe finds a new litter of puppies in front of her entry door, which has been disposed like rubbish.
The enclosures become fuller and fuller every day. Among other things, that leads to aggression between the dogs. But Ria and Sofia do not want to abandon the puppies back to the streets, even they do not have enough space in the enclosures. Another problem is that the financial ressources for food and medical attendance run out continously. This situation is an ordeal for the restistance of all the involved.
So they accomodate the puppies and attend them. The dogs get vaccinations and were chipped. All on their own cost. With all efforts they try to enable a better future for them.
Therefore they now use a second enclosure on another location. That location has been provided temporary by authority of Elefsina. There, amidst a business park, the authority of Elefsina had built up an enclosures including a refuge some years ago. All financed of official aid money for animal protection.
Actually it has been built as animal shelter, but the building never has been finished. Now the mayor would like to built playground for children in this place, so he would like to take the enclosures down.
In fact, Ria and Sofia accommodated some dogs in this unfinished enclosure, but in the following time, toxic bait had been thrown over the fence, so several dogs died in a very torturous way. So now, the two sisters are every day afraid to come to the enclosure assuming that they find the remaining dogs there also dead.
That is why they hestiate in accomodating more dogs in this enclosure. But with the given circumstances they barely have another chance...
Diseased and injured dogs find accommodation the family's house. Anyone who knows the attitude of greek people according to stray dogs also knows that this can lead difficult disputs with the neighbours: The family aready lost their flat two times until know, because neighbours declined the keeping of dogs and especially the occupation of diseased dogs in a flat.
That is why they have to be very careful in accommodating further dogs. But they blow their worries in the wind, when they again find a injured dog, lying on the roadside, dying and needing help, because someone had run it down.
When we visitied Ria and her family, they had, beside their own three dogs, two additonal ones in their flat. One puppy with umbilical hernia and a she-dog which was more dead than alive. According to a report of an eye witness, the dog has been run down consciously and been left there with all it's bad injuries. She should have died in a very torturous way. For two dayd, nobody cared about the dying dog. Then, someone called Ria and she could bring her barely early enough to the veterinary for operating on her.
The cars of Ria and Sofia were as well used as accommodation für diseased dogs. The evening we were on Rias way, a dog slept in her car. The day before, they had to amputate its caudal, becausse another dog had injured him. It might be curious to use a car as hospital ward but with the given circumstances, they could not find a better accommodation.
An animal welfare activist in Greece always as to improvise and break new ground.
They also offer owners of bandogs to castrate them on their own costs. But often, the owners decline this offer, because they do not want to influence the course of the nature. Thus produced dogs always end up on the street, were ran over or die because of hunger and thirst.
Beside the medical care, Ria and Sofia feed also all known stray dogs and cats.
All this leads to limits according to Rias and Sofias mental and physical condition, but also to financial limits. We admire these two very much. They do a Sisyphus job there. In the morning, they bring three puppies to the airport. And when they come back in the evening, eight more puppies have been thrown over the fence.
They even know that everything they do is just a drop in a bucket. As long as the attitude according to stray dogs does not change in Greece, they only can help a few dogs. But the major part will rest without any help.
But the both were not admired for all their efforts. Quite the contrary happens. They were disliked and made to misfits. Actually the greek people assume that they get enrich themselves with the trade of dogs.
Additional to this the two see all this agony and adversity of the stray animals and bandogs but they are powerless against all this. Powerless because the individual only can resque several, but he cannot change the basic tendeneces of a community, which carries the collective violence against animals: So it is not curiosity that children inflame cats on the schoolyard. If Ria censures them for that, the parents react very angrily on her, because it just has been a cat.
Ria is also called by dog owners, who already tried to poison their dog a few times but failed. Ria should be well versed with dogs, so she should advise a certain method for poisoning. But do not think that these dog owners belong to the lower class of the society.
Oftentimes these requests came from well educated people with higher job positions.
At the moment, two younger dogs live near Rias school. A very coltish black male dog named Bolle and a calm shedog with white badges named Lucy. Some children play with the dogs, but others mishandle them. Especially the black one is always abused by the children because ot its black fur and his confidingness.
The head of school now considers to poison the two dogs because they disturb. Ria neither has a place to accommodate the two dogs nor a foster home that quickly.
What sounds like a borderline situation is routine for a dedicated animal rights acitivist, who does not look the other way and do not want to abandon the dogs to their fate. For this she also does not hesitate to take her supervisor on. Only the absolute love to the animals and their true humanistic attitude do not let Ria and Sofia capitulate in front of this superiority of agony.
Actually people like Ria and Sofia are a credit to Greeces honour althoug they were excluded because of their dedication to stray animals. They deserve any kind of support.
So we would be very pleased if the two sisters would receive help. You can help the two with financial donations or with the donation of food or with the placement of dogs.
We would be also pleased about moral support and positive encuragement for the two, because that is what they do not get from their environment.
Report written by Claudia Nassibulin
If you would like to help the two animal rights activists:
name of theBank : Ethiki Trapeza Ellados
account holder : Eleftheria Pantali
IBAN : GR 24 0110 1990 0000 19951401108
BIC : ETHNGRAA
If you would like to contact them:
E-Mail : email@example.com