Aspropyrgos near Athens in Greece, is a hodgepodge of light industry, gypsy camps, private homes, and ruined and abandoned buildings. The area is home to countless homeless, sickly, unwanted and unloved street dogs. They need help – and no one there cares about them.
A loving home is a fantasy for the unwanted “ghost dogs” of Aspropyrgos.
These animals are the discards of people who don’t care. They live rummaging for food scraps, with sickness an ever-present threat. They die of disease, smashed by cars or killed by vicious humans. They live like ghosts because to be seen by callous humans could mean brutal death.
Life is always tough for a street dog in Aspropyrgos, but the impending winter is a time of sheer hell.
Bitterly cold rain takes over from Greece’s famous sunshine, and shelter and food become almost impossible to find for street dogs. They scramble for scraps, and shelter that simply does not exist, finding refuge in abandoned ruins and dense undergrowth. They become emaciated, then they get sick and desperate and venture forth into danger to be struck by cars, poisoned by humans, or simply succumb to hunger, dying sad, lonely deaths. Because they are not all sterilized, they often leave behind puppies who then die in misery.
That is where Network for Animals comes in. For 10 years now, along with our partner Ghost Dogs, we have fed as many dogs as we can throughout every winter, paid for their medical care and helped find the rare, lucky ones new homes. Winter is a battle to survive for each and everyone and without the help of animal lovers like you, many just don’t make it.
Winter is about to strike; without help, this means ghastly deaths for Greek street dogs.
Aspropyrgos is a dumping ground for unwanted pets, close enough to Athens that it is easy for owners to drive there, toss a sick, elderly or unwanted dog out of the car, and zoom away. It happens so often that keeping street dog numbers down is almost impossible, all we can do is help them survive.
To give you an idea of how awful the situation truly is, I recorded what happened in just two hours of one day.
At noon I started timing two hours. First, we were called by the police to a crime scene. Robbers had poisoned three street dogs who lived on scraps donated by workers at a storage facility. Presumably, the robbers thought they were guard dogs and fed them poisoned food.
The police said, “There is only you. No one else cares about the dogs.”
When we got there, policemen on the scene had been calling for help for two hours. None of the local authorities answered their phones on a Saturday morning, and by the time we got the call, two dogs had died and the remaining dog was very ill. We stabilized him, and the good news is he is going to live.
The police say the chances of finding the criminals are slight, but they will do their best. When I asked why they had been there for two hours without assistance, one policeman summed it up: “There is only you,” he said, “No one else cares about the dogs.”
That perfectly explains why we exist to help animals when no one else does.
The next victim was a husky in severe distress, writhing in agony with broken bones protruding from his rear.
The plea for help was from a gypsy area where police are reluctant to go, fearing violence from criminal elements there. So, we went alone… According to children in the area, a dog had been there for three days, writhing in agony.
We found a husky who was clearly in excruciating pain. He had been attacked by another dog and so badly savaged his tail had been destroyed, and broken bones were sticking out of his rear. He was in such pain that he could not sit still, thrashing around and howling in agony. We rescued him, and he is in a clinic receiving treatment.
When they hear our car engine, dogs appear out of nowhere like ghosts.
Then we went to feed street dogs; some knew our team so well that when they heard a familiar car engine, they appeared like ghosts out of nowhere. Added to the lack of food and danger of disease is a criminal element who seems to delight in beating and killing dogs. The survivors have learned to hide in places where the bad guys can’t get them. A loving mother protected her two pups by holing up in an abandoned house surrounded by a dense thicket of bushes. We managed to gain entry and coax her to a broken window, where we fed her probably the best meal she had ever had.
Every dog we fed received a health check and was given immediate tick and flea treatment. When we find one who is not sterilized, we take them to a vet for surgery.
Every day is an exhausting 24-hour battle for survival for these animals.
Then the two hours were up. We carried on, and by the end of the day, we had served perhaps 100 dogs a good meal, medically treated 20 or so and given everyone we met a touch of the love they never get from anyone else.
If we can raise $5,000, we can help hundreds of street dogs survive bitter winter.
The dogs need food and medical care. If we can raise $5000, that will get them through to spring when the living is easier. Please donate as much as you can today. Hungry, unloved street dogs will thank you for it.
For the animals,
Gloria Davies (and Max and Flora!)
Founder and CEO
Network for Animals
P.S. My late husband Brian Davies, NFA’s founder, started us feeding Ghost Dogs. It is nearly a year since his passing, but I felt his presence with me there. I feel so happy that because of what he started and with your continued help today, these poor creatures will get through another winter and find a little love. Please donate generously so we can carry on Brian’s good work to feed animals in need.
Banner image credit: Vic Dobry