As one of my beloved subscribers wrote: “Some official or officials think money is being made (from animal welfare) and they are not getting any of it. They truly believe saving the strays and rehoming them is some kind of for profit business. They actually believe that by rehoming the Greek strays, “its selling away their Greek culture”.
I could not have put it better myself. Greece is a country where dogs suffer. Dogs spending their entire lives chained is more common than you can imagine, strays are everywhere, roof dogs and balcony dogs spend a lifetime barking at the world from above, litters of puppies from owned dogs are being dumped like trash per hundreds every month, and it’s just a handfull of people who try to do things right.
As if the situation is not bad enough, rescuers that give their time and their money, that put their lives on hold and risk their personal relationships, spending time away from family and friends, are being accused of trafficking and of making money from adoptions. I am not joking.
Elizabeth is one of these rescuers that have devoted their lives to the animals in need, with little to no help from any official channels or the government. Her shelter in Chania, Crete, is open to visitors, her work is unquestionable, and the welfare of the dogs she rehomes, that were left to die on the streets of Greece, would make anyone cry of joy.
Her meeting with the vice mayor of Chania yesterday was a shameful example of indifference, lack of empathy, and most of all lack of knowledge on behalf of many people like him who hold official positions in the government.
After accusing her of making money of animal welfare – proof that he has no idea what the costs of rescuing, spaying, testing, vaccinating, treating and caring for any animal rise up to, he instructed her to close down the shelter, labeled “illegal”, with no care whatsoever of what will happen to the animals.
Please read what Elizabeth wrote about the meeting:
“Yesterday I met with the Vice Mayor of Chania, responsible for the maintenance of the stray animal population. I was called to discuss the closing of the Souda Shelter.
As we all know, from the very beginning of this project, if you read the “About” you see that I do mention that the space of the shelter is illegal. And that I would like to shut it down.
In 2016, when the previous owner renounced the shelter a few days later I had a meeting with the previous mayor of the time. I told him the situation (that there were 253 animals in the shelter) and that I would be more than willing to help but that I needed his support. Not economically, nor provisions wise. I needed his support because of the illegality of the space. I did not want to be chased for it, nor held accountable for it. I wanted to be pardoned so that I can help the animals.
In the same weeks I also visited the vet department introducing myself and requesting help to “empty” the shelter legally.
There was not any support from either authority, they just let me be and looked the other way, shucking any responsibility they have legally to the animals.
Fast forward to today.
Both the municipality and the veterinary department of Chania have been summoned with prosecutorial orders that the illegal space in Souda must close. Why all of a sudden, four years later?
Anyone following the animal welfare scene in Greece knows about “the bad guys of animal welfare”. I won’t bother to mention them to give them any publicity but these are the folks who stop animal transports, who accuse animal welfare volunteers of selling poor dogs for profits, of exploiting animals for monetary purposes. This group has filed against the municipality and the veterinary department of Chania for allowing an illegal shelter to exist.
And so we find ourselves in this predicament today.
I showed up at the meeting with the vice mayor with my lawyer, of course.
Within the first minutes I was immediately insulted with the question of “so you don’t make money from this?“, “how do you live?” He also said that he cannot understand how someone can work for “free”. Infuriated I stated that I live from my husband’s salary, a high ranking military official, that I am saddened that he cannot fit it in his heart that people can do something that they love for a greater good and then I had the pleasure of insulting him back. I proceeded to ask him how he lived off of the poor salary of vice mayor and that SURELY he must be getting some money under the table…how else could he live? He sternly said he did not, and so I sternly said neither did I and added that I am very sorry that ONLY IN GREECE are animal welfare people associated with stealing money. Very sad.
We continued our conversation where I informed him that I was recognized by various serious establishments and organizations, such as the Naval Support Base of the US military, by KIFAAMEA, by the municipality of Apokoronas and others and that all of my problems would diminish if the municipality of Chania acknowledged us as well. He declined. He declined to acknowledge us yet on the telephone when arranging this meeting in the same breath asked me if I could take in an aggressive animal. Of course I did not.
The hypocrisy is just astounding.
He told me that we have twelve months to pack it up.
And so we will.
This means we must find a new grounds, buy it, build it to legal specifications and move our operations.
WE NEED YOUR HELP.
We need someone who can help create a media/marketing packet for the shelter to present to potential donors. Who we are, what we do, what we’ve done.
Please someone professional who knows how to do this.
We need publicity. Local and national newspapers, TV stations and other media vehicles to promote our story. In any, every country.
We need everyone to share. In the next months we need to raise funding to achieve this. Remember, we are a non profit organization with a non profit tax ID. All money collected will be strictly used.
We need someone who knows about EU grants and national Greek grants, maybe we are entitled to some help from the higher ups.
We need animal welfare organizations and associations to help us with rehoming and provisions.
We need your patience, your love, your understanding, your goodness.
Be a part of our project.
The Souda Shelter Project”
To help Elizabeth and the Souda Shelter Project, please make a small donation here.
Dozens of animals will need to be removed within the next 12 months, and funding a new “legal shelter” is ridiculously expensive.
Join the Souda Shelter facebook group here.
Contact Elizabeth directly here.