Playing God – Choosing Which Dog To Rescue And Which One To Leave Behind

Here’s the thing: for every dog we rescue in Greece, we simply choose to leave a dozen others behind. Every time I upload a rescue video, I prefer to exclude footage showing other strays wandering around the dog we chose to save, because I simply don’t want to answer to the same questions every time (“there was another dog there, why did you not rescue him?”)

I don’t know what it’s like in your countries, but this is what happens in Greece: there is an average of about a dozen strays in every corner. Numbers range from uncountable (literally) to a couple of them, depending on the neighborhood. And we are talking about the cities, because when it comes to rural Greece, you just want to kill yourself and over with it.

They are simply too many


A tour around the outskirts of Athens will convince you. A tour around rural Greece will make you say: “I just give up”. They are simply too many. We all know it, we are used to it, and we simply choose to rescue the ones that need it the most. These are:

playingThe injured ones – dogs that have been hit by cars or injured in any way are a priority.

The sick ones – mange rules, leishmaniasis rules. Dogs like Billy, who are at practically moribund cannot be left behind.
The pregnant ones – letting a dog give birth on the street is not an option
The puppies – oh there are so many puppies. Most people’s option, after their dog gives birth is to put the litter in a box and abandon it somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where they will starve to death.
The very friendly ones – strays range from wild, fearful ones to people’s dogs. The human centered strays are the ones who are in danger more than others are. A stray that follows random people around are in constant danger of being kicked, ran over, mutilated, hang, shot and poisoned (and no, there is absolutely no exaggeration to any of the above)
The female ones – always a priority compared to the male ones.
Now, if a dog does not fall into any of the categories above, it is simply not a priority. If it looks like it can survive on its own, we let it be.

Shadow was the sickest one in a pack of 4-5 dogs.

Take a trip around rural Greece and you will find too many dogs from almost all these categories. Most of the times you have to choose among a litter of puppies, an emaciated starving hound, a mangy, wounded dog, a pregnant female and a bunch of dogs that follow you around begging that you take them home. This is what happened to me in Pelion – I went for a three day trip and came back depressed and overwhelmed.

a rescuer can take on a couple of strays at a time

The shepherd

the reason why we don’t rescue every stray dog we spot on the street is because it is basically impossible

Usually, a rescuer can take on a couple of strays at a time, provided that he has somewhere to place them and means to transport them. Travelling by bus makes you incapable of doing anything. Even travelling by car makes rescue hard, since most of us travel with our own dogs already taking up space in the back sit of the car. In order for me to rescue Blue for example, I had to drive her to Athens and then go back to my home town to pick up my three dogs and my husband, because there was no room for the six of us in the car.


So, the reason why we don’t rescue every stray dog we spot on the street is because it is basically impossible. Even trying to find someone else willing to help a dog we see, by posting a photo online is impossible, because they are so many, that posting a photo for everyone will only be spam – coming back from Pelion for example, I would have to post photos of about 30 stray dogs asking for..what? The post would have to be something like “there are about 30 stray dogs there, can someone do something?”

for every dog we rescue, dozens of others are left behind

Three of the twenty (or more) strays in Makrinitsa – one of the most touristic winter destinations of Greece.

This is the situation here, and there is no exaggeration whatsoever. Around the area where Shadow was rescued, there were about 4-5 more dogs, feeding off corpses too. They looked healthy, Shadow was moribund; we could only take on one and we chose the neediest of all. There won’t be any solution to this problem anytime soon, so just keep in mind that for every dog we rescue, dozens of others are left behind, and most of us actually take on more dogs than we can handle.



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