The Devastating Reality Of Starving Strays In Lockdown Cities

There are estimated to be about a billion stray dogs in the world. Although that number keep changing, it is increasing every year, despite the efforts of animal charities to control it.

In Greece, there are estimated to be two to five millions stray dogs, and just like the millions of stray cats, they survive thanks to us.

Photo: East PIlio Animal Welfare

As scavengers, dogs eat what they find. Given that they are large animals, their hunger is more difficult to sarisfy than that of the cats.

Photo: DAR Animal Rescue

Coffee shops, restaurants and fast food places is where their main meals come from. Some left overs here and there, a half eaten burger dumped on the street, and of course garbage keep them alive day in day out.

A video by DAR Animal Rescue documenting the everyday life of volunteers feeding strays in the empty city:

Volunteers and animals lovers usually take on the task of regularly feeding strays as well, going around in neighboarhoods and leaving food for dogs and cats in need.

But with the cities in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the people are gone, and the strays are starving.

Roaming around in empty streets, they find the restaurants closed every day. The kind stranger that would have thrown them a bite occasionaly is not around anymore, no one is around.

Photo: East Pilio Animal Welfare

With most of us locked in out homes, the volunteers are now doing double and triple shifts, trying to keep the strays fed. Even if before the lockdown, this might not have been necessary for strays that hang out around busy areas with restaurants and coffee shops, now it is.

Many strays depend on the kindness of strangers in restaurants for their daily meal. With the restaurants closed, that option is no longer there

Thankfully, the Greek government issued a special permit for volunteers that have taken on the task of feeding strays that everyone else has forgotten about.

Ermioni form DAR Animal Rescue showing her permit for feeding strays to the local police officer


But apart from the extra time spent on the streets and the psychological burden of knowing that dogs and cats are starving, the current lockdown has put a huge financial strain on the volunteers also.

Feeding time for stray dogs and cat during lockdown with Katerina, founder of DASH -Dream of Safe Have Dog Shelter:

Apart from the huge daily expenses for food for the hundreds of rescues under their care, the expenses for food for the straving dogs and cats on the streets have doubled, and they have during a time so scary and fluid, that donations have dropped dramatically.


Some municipalities in Greece have stepped in and are donating food for the strays, but it’s never enough, and not all municipalities are willing to do so.

These difficult times we are going through are affecting the strays more than we can imagine, and they prove how dependent they are on us.



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