The beginnings of Compassion for Greek Paws ....
Compassion for Greek paws was founded by Amanda Maguire Deligianni. She lives in Northern Greece, 720 Metres above sea level, at the foot of a mountain range.
During Amanda’s first Greek winter in the middle of a snow storm a puppy was found late in the evening in a supermarket car park. She couldn’t leave this small girl, abandoned and alone, so she took more than shopping home that night! So here we have it, darling Maya, her first rescue who came to live in Amanda’s home!
A year later another puppy was found early morning during her market working day wandering the street. It walked into the road as a truck was coming at full speed! As you can imagine Amanda with her heart in her mouth ran out into the road and the next rescue had taken place! She stayed in a box with a blanket by the market until she could be taken to the vets for a check over. The first adoption took place that evening as Amanda’s friend came to the rescue. To this day, Yannis still has little Aika!
After working with her husband in the market for a couple of years, Amanda noticed a sudden change as abandoned dogs began to appear in the village. The first three were named Poppy, Agapius and Rusty-Jack who were found wandering one late summer afternoon, hungry, abandoned and searching for some affection. Amanda instantly fed them but knew a longer term solution was needed in order to house them and keep them safe.
By September 2015 the ‘shelter’ began with an old shack with no roof! The three dogs were fed on the streets until a roof could be assembled and by the 15th September our first three shelter dogs had the care they needed, were safe and loved.
How strange, it was as if a bomb had gone off…..as soon as this small shack was ‘functioning’ there were dogs all over the place, coming out from the mountains, streets, being found in grave yards, fields, and dumped on the side of the road.
When Amanda was walking Rusty-Jack late one evening, they walked past the local graveyard and found Domino, a puppy, no more than a few weeks old closed in unable to get out. He was put in the schools basement until the next morning and then picked up early. After yet another visit to the vets, she found he was emaciated, had a poor coat and was in need of desperate attention as he had been shot three times and his tail had been cut by some human very badly. He was in acute pain and distress. He was given his home and safe place at the shelter, a little pack was being formed.
Amanda began to look for a place for Rusty-Jack as he kept getting out of the shelter, jumping high walls, needing to be free. The trouble with this was that he attacked chickens and had been hit by a car and would chase them, so he was unsafe. He was vulnerable to the surrounding farms working dogs as this was ‘their’ territory. A piece of waste land was found in the village, near Amanda’s home where he was given a kennel, fed and visited twice a day and taken for a walk where he visited another dog in the village. He was unhappy with this arrangement and stressed by not being allowed to run free, he didn’t have a great appetite so was quite thin. The vet said it was stress that was causing this. Our priority was always to keep him safe. Thankfully as the shelter has progressed we have been able to custom build him a long, high run and hope to socialise him with another dog for company.
A local villager mentioned to Amanda that he had passed by the side of a rubbish tip and noticed two puppies and a mother not moving. Amanda soon realised the mother had been poisoned and had been dead for some time. These two pups didn’t know where to go and were still trying to suckle and stay warm in the safety of their mum’s body. Often female pups are dumped because they have unwanted puppies. The idea of having them neutered is unheard of because of both cost and it is not thought right to ‘sin’ and interfere with nature. However, it is not a ‘sin’ to ‘dump’ the dog leaving her and the pups vulnerable.
Most of the time when dogs are pregnant or have birthed they receive no care or attention, no extra food, no worming, no safe place, they are left to fend for themselves as it is considered as an animal they will be ok. Thankfully the pups had not suckled the poison and survived! They soon became best friends with Bono and all slept together, snuggled up like a little family.
We are pleased to say both of these pups called Mungo and Midge travelled with puppy Poppy to be our first re-homed shelter dogs in the UK in September 2016.
Soon people began to hear of the sanctuary and started to ‘dump’ dogs at the gate or even throw them over the fence! Four puppies Gracie, Lulu, Rupert and Willow were left one winter’s night at -6 in an open box, open to both the elements and the wild wolves, foxes and sheep dogs. They were shivering profusely on Amanda’s arrival. She took them straight to the vets and kept them warm. As you can imagine Amanda was now getting to know her vet quite well! Thankfully all these puppies survived and Rupert is in his forever home and the three girls are waiting for their special day to come.
We would like to re-home in Greece, but generally the belief is an animal’s value is only if they can work, otherwise they are of no use and will not be fed. Often sheep dogs get worn out, have multiple litters and just cannot cope anymore by the time they are three. They are then abandoned and left to fend for themselves looking for food.
Whilst working at the shelter one early morning Amanda saw a silver pick up drive up and pass the shelter three times, the third time it stopped on the opposite side of the shelter. A man shouted ‘ I have three puppies’, he was clearly about to dump them in the mountains to meet their fate……. Amanda looked inside the boot of the vehicle and found three puppies inside a bag, tied up tightly ready to be thrown away. Yet something touched his conscience, something moved him to call out to Amanda, after all he was in the place where compassion was being birthed, the spirit of compassion was present and on him…. Perhaps it is right to think that God cares for his creation and knew they deserved a chance of life.
What a shock to see they were just a few weeks old and most definitely should still have been feeding from their mum. Amanda stated that they should still be with their mum, he replied ‘no, he had just found them, ermmm, he had seen them eating’, conflicting comments none which were true. So back to the vet again!
Rosa, Santi and Challula were all aptly named after the mountains, a reminder that they did not receive what had been planned, but an intervention had mysteriously taken place. It was a difficult, uncertain time to have three such tiny puppies in -21 conditions. They all survived and Rosa stills awaits her forever home.
Although it is a criminal act here in Greece to ‘dump’ a dog, including heavy fines this unfortunately appears not to be enforced. We long for the authorities to put another law in place where dogs are to be neutered so the problem of unwanted puppies is not there in the first place. There is a belief held by many that animals should be free to breed.
One early summer morning Amanda arrived and found five tiny pups between 5-6 weeks old. They had been placed in an area not used for the dogs but where the walk through was. Amanda walked in and there they were! Shockingly, within minutes two died in her arms as they couldn’t breathe. They sadly passed but not before knowing they were held with love and compassion before these two precious girls took their last breath. They were both so alike, almost little twinnies, so Amanda gave them dignity and value naming them Agapi and Compassion (love and compassion in Greek) before they were laid to rest in the opposite mountain. We will bring change beautiful girls and your names will live on as we learn to develop a culture of love and compassion in this land.
The other three puppies were named Zeke, Alben and Thumbelina. Both the boys Zeke and Alben were robust and full of life and gradually adapted to shelter life. Thumbelina was so tiny and weak, she was severely dehydrated so was placed on a drip at the vets. It was touch and go as the vet thought she would not make it. She had previously been bitten very badly and a huge abscess had formed on her neck which had to be opened behind her ear to the top of her shoulder that’s how big it was! It was drained and left open for the remaining fluid to come out.
When it rains the water comes down the mountain and overflows into the ravines. When Amanda was leaving the shelter one day, two puppies were found about two months old crying in the ravine. One had a broken leg called Betty and the other was crying to get help for her. Amanda was able to locate that a farmer’s dog had a litter of five puppies and had left them to their own devices. The thinking is they either survive or they don’t! It is rare for them to be cared for in their vulnerable state, they are left as if they were an animal in the wild. There was nothing to decide as Betty’s leg made her too vulnerable to the environment left to wander so she came and joined the pack. Her leg healed beautifully with the right care at Amanda’s home. She is still looking for her forever home.
To Amanda’s surprise one day three sisters only a few weeks old Bonita, Spot and Megan were all found huddled together in an old tyre in one of the pens! How on earth did they get there, they were not there when she left the previous evening! There was no way in as everywhere was locked up! We realised they must have been thrown over a 7ft fence. As you can imagine they were petrified after being thrown in and had found the tyre to feel safe in. Due to unconditional love and attention they recovered quickly and have grown into the most stunning girls. Bonita has been adopted and the other two sisters are still at the shelter.
A phone call was taken in the middle of a working day up at the shelter to say there was a young pup running in the village in distress. We left to go and investigate and found Billy with a chain embedded in his neck, which had clearly been there for quite some time. He was extremely thin with an exposed rib cage and a chewed ear due to bites from fleas. He was taken to the vets and put back together, including all necessary vaccinations and treatments.
Bertie had been spotted by various people in the village and they had alerted Amanda but despite her best attempts to locate him, he was not found for several days. Eventually he walked into the village by himself as he was starving to the point of skeletal and dehydrated.
His first stool was full of berries seeds which was what he had been surviving on and the odd puddle in a field. He was near deaths door, exhausted and was encouraged to eat and drink little and often. On closer inspection, to our surprise we realised he had already been neutered. The local council by law will neuter stray dogs and put them back on the streets, after a few days but not necessarily where they first found them!
Four pups were found in an open bag at the side of a Motorway by a young man from the village who happened to stop. He brought them to Amanda and on closer inspection it was found they were literally days old and had clearly been taken from their mother. They were all bottle fed and became affectionately known as the ‘bottle pups’. It didn’t take long for these three sisters and brother to find wonderful names that suited them. The male was small and the weaker so he was known as ‘Warrior’, the three girls were given names to declare what we wanted to see, ‘Hope’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Liberty’. They were kept at Amanda’s home the entire time as there was no room at the shelter and without this they would have perished. They thrived and grew into the most adorable beauties you ever did see. All have been adopted and are making wonderful family additions.
Faith, Hope, Warrior and Liberty
David when he arrived at the shelter
David in his forever home
Often Amanda is called about many different dogs both on the streets and in need of rescue or care from people’s homes. Unfortunately due to lack of knowledge, care and compassion many often do not make it due to the various diseases which have already taken hold.
Lucy was spotted late summer roaming around gardens in the evening, but there were no sightings of her in the day. Also at the same time in the next village another English setter was seen looking for food and shelter too. Amanda eventually found her, believing her to have been dumped or lost during the hunting season.
Amanda made so many attempts to catch Beatrice to ensure she was neutered and then would have allowed her to continue to roam free. After a further five attempts to catch her under the vets guidance she unfortunately began to hide her second litter.
Dogs end up on the streets for a variety of reasons such as abandonment and the local council placing them back after neutering. Known dumping sites for dogs are local rubbish tips, industrial sites, fields and mountains. The dogs are dumped under the cover of night and left miles away from their original home so they cannot find their way back. Many are drugged and put in the boot of a car which often results in a great fear of cars and closed spaces. At present Amanda looks after and feeds various dogs on the streets in addition to the shelter namely, Blondie, Goldie and Solomon. This has reduced dramatically due to poisoning. RIP Wilf, Beauty and Caesar.
Out in the village there is a young pup called Rex but we have affectionately nick named him ‘Haircut boy’ because he is left in the family holiday home garden all year with visits from this family 3-4 times a year for a week. For approximately 48 weeks he is left alone. The family asked a neighbour to feed him, which they did every 2-3 days. Amanda found him lonely, often hungry with no water, no food, no interaction and no haircuts! Due to him receiving a haircut once a year, he is inappropriately shaved and is very fearful, which often results in him biting. This is one example of dogs needing care even when they are homed! There are several others that Amanda feeds, vaccinates, gives treatments to, and arranges neutering for.
Farm working dogs often have their tails and ears cut off from a few days old by someone with a pair of scissors. Often you see one ear only taken off and not two. This is probably because the dog fights to get away and doesn’t come back until its starving or finds its way elsewhere. The vets refuse to support this unethical practice so it is performed by farmers. This is a ‘cultural belief’ that the dog will be safer from wolves. We would very much like to stop this barbaric action and support the farmers by re-education.
The farm dogs are worked very hard and are at risk to wild animals in the mountains such as bears and wolves. They often do not live beyond three. The farmers allow them to breed to therefore have more. However, they leave them to their own devices whether it is 40+ degrees or -21. As you can imagine many litters die leaving the mother full of milk and despairing. They expect the birthing mother to use a barn, but often she feels threatened by the other farm dogs and they eat all the food leaving her emancipated. They often birth painfully thin, having received no worming treatment and no care or attention. The mind-set is they will either survive or not.
Janie normally would accept the bread and scraps but in order to support her litter her survival instincts caused her to hunt for food such as chickens. The other farmers wanted her shot as she was taking their livestock. The farmer could not feed her so he solved the problem by putting her on a short chain locked in a shed so she could not go anywhere. Amanda was worried as she hadn’t seen her for some time a voice told her to ‘GO’ and look for her. She arrived up at the farm and eventually heard a faint cry coming from the old milking shed.
What she was faced with was overwhelmingly shocking and the image has never left her. Poor Janie was chained, unable to move, left with no water, no food and was in a devastating state of slowly dying. She was under cover, left to painfully die where no one could see what was happening, she was literally a ‘bag of bones’. It is unimaginable that a person who actually knows a dog could walk by each day knowing the slow death they were forcing upon her.
She was sick after either water or food and could keep nothing down. She was on a drip at the vets and in time, slowly recovered and is now a very healthy weight, but always looking for a little extra food! Who can blame her? Janie is still looking for her safe home.
She disappeared and a few months later was pregnant again coming back occasionally for food. As the harsh winter set in and the temperatures began to fall Amanda became fearful for her and her litter. It was now freezing, blizzard conditions so she searched the surrounding areas but there was no sign of her or the pups. Her mothering instincts had caused her to hide them well. She had not only the instinct to hide her precious cargo from known predators like wolves and bears; she now had a new predator called man.
Daily Amanda’s heart ached for this mother and her babies, not a day went by without her searching. It was now like this girl was deeply connected to Amanda, she was becoming ‘her girl’. Despite Amanda preparing a shelter for her at the front of the rescue there was still no sign. This girl had lost her trust and it would perhaps not be recovered.
Early morning, with frozen snow on the ground Amanda looked up and there she was, ‘her girl’ up on the hill with just one pup sitting by her side. Amanda bursting with joy and sadness in equal unison as clearly only one pup had survived. Now there was a chance to save her and give her what she needed, she cried with sheer relief. She immediately opened up the front bit of the shelter she had prepared for her and made it safe. This mother clearly knew she could trust this human and also her instincts told her, her one baby would not survive without this intervention. Knowing better than the farmer, she chose to wait until two months old before she brought her pup back to man.
Wisely Amanda secured the pup so she couldn’t get out but the mother could get in. This girl then left straight away as soon as she could see the pup was safe. The very next morning can you believe it; she came back with another baby that had survived! We now had two; this was clearly a miracle that two pups had survived against these odds. To Amanda’s dismay ‘her girl’ left again…..and on the third morning she came back with three more! Five have now survived! Early that evening, Amanda decided it would be best to keep this mum and her five pups warm and safe as a family. To her utter devastation, her girl walked away…. she stopped and looked back at her human. Her human replied, ‘please don’t go my girl, I need you to get healthy and well as you are painfully thin and keep you safe.’ Despite her plea, she walked away…. Amanda thought she had given up and was going off to die as she was skeletal. She had allowed Amanda the honour of being their mum.
The following morning with her heart in her mouth, Amanda gasped as another three treasured babies were brought by ‘her girl’. What a complete shock to see eight healthy babies in this pen! Wow! This girl had been the most selfless, clever, outstanding mamma there was. Never again will you suffer my girl, never again will you go through this, never again will you have to work, never again…… And there we have it; her name was birthed ‘Koritzi Mou’ meaning ‘my girl’.
Koritzi Mou and pups
Compassion for Greek Paws aims to provide and create a culture of compassion. We intend to do this by helping, supporting and rescuing any animal in need. Although we are aware that not every Greek person is the same, Amanda would like to see education provided in the schools, farming industry and the local community. We would like to create flyers and information packs to support and encourage change. We would like to see change at a governmental level and support for small farms to look after the animals that look after their livestock.
We seek to provide veterinary treatment for all sickness, flea, tick and worming treatment, antibiotics and antiseptic treatment where required. Our aim is to work toward a vaccination and neutering programme to ensure the wellbeing of the animals. Due to growing numbers at the shelter it is paramount that we foster and adopt as many dogs as quickly as possible to prevent behavioural issues emerging.
The support ‘Compassion for Greek Paws’ is looking for is practical, financial and a structured programme for re homing. We presently have high veterinary bills due to vaccinations, flea and worming treatments, neutering, emergencies, illness, rabies vaccination and microchip for passports. There is a growing need for more food which results in a constant demand for funding. Amanda only has her family and some friends for financial support.
Due to unfortunate circumstances some dogs require behavioural and fear reduction training due to trying to survive on the streets having been beaten, kicked and shot at. There is a need to grow the shelter which results in more materials required. We always welcome volunteers who come and help at the shelter and now have a volunteering messaging group on Facebook started.
We are so very grateful for all the support we have already received from ‘Greek Animal Rescue’ who has provided us with pallets of food, dog crates, helped to build new pens and continue to provide medications, flea, tick, worming, advice and support. They also have helped us with the homing and sheltering of dogs and have been a huge driving force in the neutering programme for a large number of dogs.
We would also like to thank ‘Friends of the strays of Greece’ for their help with neutering and medications.
We thank Starlight Barking, Pandora and Enly in Holland and NLGR for working closely with us to provide both financial travelling assistance to support dogs being adopted and finding forever homes for us.
We are also so very grateful to Shelley for the website, such a great gift to us! We also thank her for the constant updates too!
We are so immensely grateful to every person who has supported us in anyway by either the giving of financial contributions, those that tirelessly fund raise, the posting of items that are desperately needed or the giving of general encouragement and support. We have been blessed with many volunteering at the shelter, liking our new Compassion page in order to share adoptions or people sharing the posts and telling their friends about our dogs. We could not do this without you all, together we are making a difference and lives are being saved and valued.