For all those wonderful friends and supporters of GCWS-Rhodes, who have never visited the island but still continue to donate and send lovely caring emails complimenting us on the work done, it was decided that we would blow our own trumpet and dedicated this newsletter to US because of what we have managed to achieve in the past 2 years.
Hopefully the map below will at least give you an understanding of the amount of driving undertaken to organise the TNR programs, assist in collecting a sick or injured cat and transportation to vets. Our nearest vet from Lardos where we are based is Archangelos 20 mins drive away, the other vet who has x ray and important vetinary equipment other vets do not have, is in Kremasti close to the airport nearly 1hr 15mins away.
Kastelorizo in comparison, is the smallest of the islands being 9sq miles with only a population of 492… From one end to the other, in a straight line basically takes 6mins.
The areas that GCWS-Rhodes have progressed with TNR programs are basically around Kalathos, Lindos, Lardos, Pefki, Kiotari, some in Gennadi and a small colony in Lachania. The total amount neutered now stands at exactly 850..
Imagine the enormity of the job ahead of us in October, as that amount again will be found in the Old Town ( Rodos ) with the probability of at least another 2 x visits in the coming year, basically just to keep numbers under control.
Between Rhodes town and Kalathos on the West coast there are at least another 4 large towns with huge colonies of cats and we have still not even contemplated starting on the other side of the island.
Certainly looks an impossible task, however if we can involve the villages, locals and the Demos ( council ) as we have done over the past 2 years, the island will eventually see an amazing difference as has been proven around the Lindos / Pefki peninsular.
When we first started it was hard finding volunteers on the island and sadly that is still the case, however the program that has been implemented and explained to the locals in the villages “ You help us and we will help you”, has worked wonders.
Basically by giving them the tools, holding table tops ( Jumble sales ) Xmas or Easter Bazaars, along with coffee mornings where they charge per table for locals to be able to sell all kinds of local produce and other handmade items. Donation tins in corner shops or supermarkets, although these do not work as well as the tourist areas due to the fact the Greeks are still suffering financially from the economic crisis.
The money raised is never huge but it automatically goes towards the neutering of 3-4 cats each time in their own village, they then start to see the benefits and begin thinking of other ways to raise funds..
GCWS-Rhodes started in Pefkos, now Lindos in a small way are on board as is Pylona and recently Askilipio invited us for discussions and their first fund raiser will be in September.
These programs also involve educating children, the older generation then start to think about what GCWS are doing and quite often come to watch or assist handing out fish or bits of chicken for trapping.
It’s a small way of saying, “ We are watching and listening”…..
Anyone who volunteers for any charity in any capacity, understands it is not easy and below is quite a normal week here.
However prior to even starting the car engine there are 10 cats to be fed, along with a couple of strays that wander in, cats/ kittens in hospital pens and even fostered dogs to be fed and cleaned.
June 1st Sunday :
6.30am. Travel to Symi island 1hr ferry ride away as many of the Greek islands do not have vets our Kremasti vet volunteers each Sunday on his day off to visit and administering medication to locals pets plus farm animals. I am invited to travel with him, giving me a far better insight into the treatment of other animals along with visiting the other islands and seeing their attitudes towards cats. Very different too I must say.
Four hours and 14 customers later, a long and steep walk up to a local farm to vaccinate 25 goats & sheep, check the donkey, horse and a couple of dogs. Arrived home at 8.30pm
June 2nd: Monday:
Newly elected council in Lindos requested help with the EU & Greek animal welfare laws and regulations ( GAWF ), print off and deliver. GAWF also sent through a request from a tourist re: cat with injured leg searched Pefkos & it proved to be a cat we know well with a previous broken leg that has set, vets chose not to amputate but he gets around well. Trapped another heavily pregnant female for the vets.
June 3rd Tuesday:
Take cat to vet 1hr away, meet with another charity to hand over a dog I had fostered for over 2mths until it could travel to Germany. Drive over to assist at Kalitheas cat sanctuary to administer medications to over 30 kittens. Back to Haraki to drop off requested donation pot and check one of the hotel owners cats in case she was pregnant.
June 4th Wednesday:
Collect cat from the vets and return to Pefkos, another kitten reported ( GAWF ) in an extremely bad condition. Our Pied Piper of Pefkos ( Yanni ) said he would find it.
June 5th Thursday:
Emergency call out to the Monastery in Apolakkia 1hr away, we are not a rescue service but the monks have no finances, let alone treatment for the animals and it would be heartless not to go. Picked up poor kitten, had a badly bitten paw, terribly infected with the skin peeling off. Whilst there and to make my journey more worthwhile, decided to trap THE BIG Tom as the colony are all interbreeding. He certainly put up a fight bashing himself against the trap, spilling blood all over my clothes.
Back to Kiotari to purchase biscuits for Yanni our all year round ( famous ) feeder.
June 6th Friday:
Take cat and kitten to the vet in Kremasti as he has x ray equipment. Blood test the Tom and then neuter, over to Kalitheas Heidi needed help with more kittens that have been dumped now 48 in total.
Returned home, received a call at 8pm from Yanni he had found the sick kitten, drove to meet him, drop his biscuits and collect poor little mite which was totally emaciated, could not eat or drink and was going blind in one eye. Another for the vet. (Sadly, euthanised,)
June 7th Saturday:
Pick up cats from the vet and bring home for one evening. Meet with a delightful tourist Lorraine Elizabeth Thistlethwaite who contacted us via F/B, she kindly requested a mothering female be trapped and neutered at her expense. The cat we found out later was pregnant again, she still had 3 x kittens but old enough to be left whilst she was at the vets. ( Tourists like that we love )
June 8th Sunday:
Take Tom cat and kitten back to the Monastery in Apolakkia…
It’s a beautiful drive, would recommend it to anyone holidaying, then perhaps a chance to have lunch out with Mum in one of the lovely Tavernas dotted along the beautiful azure coloured coastline ..
Our Face Book page seems to be attracting a good number of new friends and visitors, with many overseas people making contact and volunteering either to raise funds in their respective country, or to come out on a TNR program.
It also brings in some amazing stories from people who think we should advertise the fact that Greeks are actually listening and learning. One story printed:
Miracles of miracles if you did not see this story on our Face Book page, I am sure it will be of interest:
Who said Greeks were uncaring ????
Two nights ago in a small village south of the island, a small kitten was heard pitifully crying trapped in a drain.
Not just any old drain, this was the main water pipe in the village and not only is it illegal to destroy the road but to damage the water pipe could mean jail time.
It took electric grinders, chisels, hammers, 13 men and a great deal of strength and fortitude to break through the concrete road and wire mesh beneath to rescue this 3-4 week old kitten. Most of the village were there supplying electricity with enough light to work and 5 hours later, out popped this tiny little bedraggled kitten unharmed except for a bad gash on its tail and a few grazes. She will require some vet care, love and attention but is now safely wrapped up in a warm bed, eating and drinking and we now hope to find the forever home all kittens are desperate for.
Thank you to ALL those wonderful caring Greeks that pulled her to safety and until someone comes up with a better name, we have called her DRAINO !!!!! Now named Precious ..
Another kitten found in Afandou was taken to our vet in Archangelos in an extremely bad way, covered in maggots, eyes stuck together he could not find food and emaciated to the point when I touched him I thought his bones would snap.. His ears had a disgusting smell emanating from them, along with an awful green pus…. ( Awful I know ) He was 4 weeks at the time.
He is now 8 weeks as is Precious and look how beautiful they both are with fantastic news, they will both go to new homes in Germany in another few weeks.
Also sent through a request from a tourist re: cat with injured leg searched Pefkos & it proved to be a cat we know well with a previous broken leg that has set, vets chose not to amputate but he gets around well. Trapped another heavily pregnant female for the vets.
All in all, the past 2 years have been extremely difficult especially raising awareness amongst the Greeks, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and it is beginning to taste much better !!!!!!
Thank you EVERYONE that has helped us get this far.