In early March, we learned of the horrific conditions in a municipal shelter located in Sparta and the atrocities happening there. On 21st February, Save a Greek Stray filed a lawsuit against the local authority which led to the Deputy Mayor and two shelter managers being arrested for animal cruelty. They remained in custody until they paid bail and are currently awaiting trial. The padlocks of the shelter were unlocked for rescuers to intervene and what they found is something no animal should ever experience – dead, dying, starving and sick dogs living in filthy conditions, with no space, or access to food or water. Many of the dogs were just skeletons, and most of the areas they lived in did not have a concrete floor, but just soil that was mostly covered with faeces and urine which turned into mud when it rained.
Organisations all over Greece have come together to provide supplies, transport dogs to vets, and clean the shelter. 44 of the sickest dogs who required urgent attention were transported to Athens and are being treated at veterinary clinics, sadly two have passed away. Animal welfare groups Zero Stray Pawject, Strays Sparta Greece and local volunteers have spent weeks helping with the huge clean up project. Zero Stray Pawject sent their Director, Stamatina Stamatakou, to lead the project, providing veterinary care (sterilisation, vaccinations, deworming etc) and improving the shelter conditions, with the help of vet, Nefeli-Sotiria Sinou, and two veterinary nurses. On Friday 4th our Animal Welfare Programmes Manager, Serafina, travelled to the shelter in a hired van filled with supplies, including €1,200 Bravecto tablets to treat the dogs for parasites such as fleas and ticks.
With the help of local animal welfare groups and individual volunteers, the shelter has been transformed in 2 weeks. There is still lots of work to be done but things are beginning to look much better. The vet will remain at the shelter until all dogs are sterilised, vaccinated and cared for. Even after their job is done, she will be visiting the shelter frequently, ensuring all the animals are healthy and properly cared for. The shelter costs will remain the responsibility of the municipality, but local animal welfare groups will be responsible for running the shelter with the continuous support of Zero Stray Pawject and Strays Sparta Greece.
The Ministry of Digital Governance has created this platform (currently only available in Greek) where all the dogs’ photos and information will be uploaded so that everyone will be able to see and adopt them. The opening page reads – “The situation in the kennels of Sparta is tragic. The only sure way to save these animals completely is to adopt them. Believe us, they deserve it so much. They have lived in hell. If you are sure that you want to save a dog by adopting, you will find all the dogs of the kennels that managed to survive. Please, do not forget them.”