GCWS-Rhodes have recently received some lovely complimentary emails and messages regarding our neutering program in Pefkos, with this in mind the October newsletter has been dedicated to our neutering flagship plus local businesses who promoted our work in the unique village of Pefki. ( Meaning Pine tree )
Four years ago when we first started, it was painfully hard to have a business accept a donation pot let alone discuss our neutering program. One day whilst out shopping the owner of a popular restaurant in Pefkos (Philosophia) approached me. And asked if I would kindly attend a business meeting to discuss how the village could control or at least contain the hundreds of cats running around pestering tourists and annoying locals alike.
The 8 people at the meeting (all men) Pefkos business owners, all appeared extremely worried about the economic situation in Greece, their question posed to me;
“How could they keep tourists coming back to their lovely seaside Hotels & Pensions without harming the cats as they were now classing the as vermin?”
Luckily they fully understood tourists had been returning year after year to look for their favourite Puss, businesses could definitely benefit working with us it would be a win–win situation.
Most tourists having visited Greece believe Greeks are NOT animal lovers, many newspapers reporting about their cruelty and barbaric ways of dealing with cats and dogs. For me it was a revelation listening intently to these men discussing helping cats, an absolute dream and eye opener to their creative ideas.
Obviously the very first project was to neuter as many cats as possible before the summer season started To do this accommodation, somewhere to work and transport was required. Amazingly within 15 minutes everything had been arranged, most things were covered apart from importantly the volunteer vet team.
Not only did these terrific people wish to manage and control the cat population they also insisted every member of the newly formed MY Pefkos business group accept a donation pot for the summer season and try to persuade others to do the same.
WOW! All this in one meeting, something that had never been accomplish in the previous year.
Within 3 months of this meeting our second TNR team arrived in Pefkos to a rousing welcome from businesses and locals alike. People were stopping the trappers in the streets pointing out cat colonies. thanking them, offering cool drinks along with delicious Greek food and sweets.
Whilst working, normally we do not allow anyone other than the team members to be anywhere close to the neutering, however an exception was made for these genuinely interested people who wished to see what was going on.
After a few days the novelty had worn off and the volunteers left to deal with many pregnant cats.
At the end of the first Pefkos TNR project, 147 cats had been sterilised and released, 12 donation pots had been delivered plus 2 new local recruits to assist with the winter feeding program.
During the first season of 2012 feeding signs went up from the Ionnadis Hotel Group, close to and in the grounds of 3 hotels with a fantastic response from the tourists posting on Friends of Pefkos Facebook page, they also contacted GCWS–Rhodes asking questions relating to the neutering program plus offering to bring flea and worm treatments for the strays the following summer.
Awareness had been raised at long last.
The very next season Mingos supermarket owner Kostas, also a My Pefkos board member made the decision to put back lit cat feedings signs along the main road, plus water and food bowls, plus 2 more sites installed the following year. Support from My Pefkos and the locals was fantastic even super market owners declared cat food sachets and biscuits the 2nd best selling item in the resort!
Helen Mullen a delightful lady who lives and worked in Pefkos had been feeding strays at the back of her office for a number of years, she approached us and offered to feed other strays throughout the village if biscuits could be provided. Naturally we jumped at the suggestion which also works extremely well as she makes immediate contact when a sick or injured cat is reported.
Yannis another local was also approached as for more than 10 years he spent his own money providing strays with any type of food from bread, pasta to biscuits and restaurant leftovers, walking from Pefkos to Lindos (6km) daily in all kinds of weather, he now receives 20kg bags of biscuits on a regular basis.
Due to his dedication & love for the cats he has been nicknamed the Pied Piper of Pefkos, now an icon with photos and posts on Friends Of Pefkos plus our Facebook pages, tourists immediately recognise him offering money for photos taken, which typically Yannis spends all the proceeds on cat food.
Having had 2 full TNR programs in Pefkos plus odd days trapping during the winter months, the numbers neutered are close to 350, with strays looking so fat & healthy when it has been necessary to take one to a vet they understandably assume they are a pet!
Tourists generally report on their health, reporting if there is a sick or injured cat around the village plus complimenting GCWS-Rhodes on how manageable the numbers are, no longer classed as vermin or pests jumping on dining tables or squabbling for food, running all over the roads causing accidents with many kittens being killed.
Pefkos village even has a cat as famous as Yannis, named KITLER for obvious reasons, every season tourists try to track him down for photos, enquiring about his health or his whereabouts.
In conclusion Pefkos bucked the trend of culling cats by poisoning. Instead they realised by working alongside GCWS-Rhodes, cats and locals can live and work together.
Other villages and towns have heard about and seen the difference, making contact with us and requesting we do the same for them. It can only be a win-win situation all round.
Thank you My Pefkos.
This weekend on Sunday October 2nd there will be a fundraiser at Sylvia’s Taverna in Asklipio from 10am. Our first Table Top of the winter season, everyone is welcome.There will be homewares, new clothes, pre loved clothes, hand made cards, preserves and our cake table. Come and join us, make a day of it and visit the beautiful church in Asklipio square or take a walk up to the castle.
Christmas is not too far away, please when considering purchasing gifts, holidays or general shopping take a look at Easy Fundraising a small percentage of money spent is donated back to us at GCWS-Rhodes. Happy shopping..