MID YEAR REPORT from PAWS on Paxos
Mike Houlihan and Mandy Cooper once again volunteered to work at the PAWS clinic at the end of April – this time was their first visit in the Spring, and they were delighted with all the beautiful wildflowers. Their arrival date coincided with the Greek Easter, so they enjoyed participating in the Easter festivities which involved a boat trip over to the religious island Panayia.
Due to the efforts of PAWS volunteers on Paxos during the winter, 13 puppies and 4 adult stray dogs were rescued from the rubbish tip. Some of the dogs and puppies had been re-homed on Paxos but the vet team were greeted by 8 puppies and 3 adult dogs living in the PAWS clinic garden. These dogs and puppies have been lovingly cared for by local volunteer Renata and PAWS is extremely grateful for all her hard work.
Over the last 18 months the stray dog problem has increased, and PAWS is determined to improve the situation and persuade the municipality to take more responsibility. This has involved the building of emergency kennels at the PAWS clinic, organising a dog catching workshop lead by Brian Faulkner from the Dogs Trust and several meetings with the mayor and members of the municipality. Dogs Trust UK very kindly helped financially with the dog catching workshop and their continued support is greatly appreciated.
During their stay Mike & Mandy were assisted by Mandy’s partner David in the first week, and volunteers Vaggelis and Suzy from Paxos. Lindsay, the director of PAWS helped throughout the second week. The aim of their visit was to trap neuter and return as many stray cats as possible and at the same time attend to any health problems. There was one cat called Nelson that seems to have developed a lasting attachment to Mike & Mandy since August 2018....... the story as written by Mandy:
During our last visit in August 2018, Di and Ian Mitchell brought to us a small kitten with a badly damaged eye. We removed his left eye and castrated him at the same time and so decided to call him Nelson!
By the end of our visit, although Nelson had improved, we felt he was too weak to be placed back in the colony, so Di and Ian Mitchell very kindly agreed to look after him until he was strong enough. During that period, another little kitten was being cared for by them who became a companion for Nelson, who they decided to call Emma! Eventually they were both released into a small group not far from the PAWS clinic in Magazia.
One of the first things I wanted to do when we arrived this Spring was to see if I could find Nelson and Emma and within a couple of days, I had found them, sitting not far apart amongst the wildflowers. Two locals, Helen and Jeff who feed them daily along with the rest of the colony, explained that Emma had just had kittens, which they managed to find a few days later so she will be caught and neutered later this year.
However, Helen and Jeff were concerned about sun damage to Nelson’s ear pinnae, so brought him to the PAWS clinic for assessment. Once anaesthetised we noticed a swelling on his lower jaw, the same side his eye had been removed. Mike diagnosed osteomyelitis - a bone infection that was possibly from his original injury as a small kitten. The decision was made to treat him with antibiotics, so we kept Nelson in a large cage at the clinic for treatment and monitored his progress. By the time our last day had arrived, Nelson had put on 0.2kg and was eating well. The antibiotics had also helped his ears and the fact he was being sheltered at the clinic had become braver and could be seen happily eating and washing himself without hiding away. Helen and Jeff very kindly agreed to look after Nelson and give him his medication until the infection has cleared. He is currently living happily in and is progressing well. We are hoping that Nelson will soon be reunited with Emma!
During the 2nd week of Mike & Mandy’s visit, Lindsay organised a meeting with the mayor and other members of the municipality. This was to discuss the best way forward to improve the situation with stray dogs and cases of animal neglect and cruelty. It was decided that PAWS would after the elections send an official directive to the mayor asking for the creation of a dog pound, the appointment of an animal welfare officer and improved education on responsible dog ownership and the benefits of neutering. Once it was announced that Spyros Vlachopoulos had been re-elected, Lindsay issued the directive at the beginning of June which has been translated by Faye and sent to the municipality.
The stray dog problem on Paxos has become a serious issue. Paxos is a very small island with only 3000 inhabitants. It has not got the infrastructure to run an animal shelter so trying to find homes for abandoned puppies and stray dogs is extremely difficult. Although it is not ideal to re-home dogs in the UK, sometimes it is the only option. What is needed is better education on Paxos and throughout Greece to try and reduce the problem in the first place. Lindsay is certain that with a determined effort by the municipality and the local community, that Paxos could be a flagship island regarding animal welfare and environmental issues....... so let’s do it!!
Nefeli Damigou as the registered municipal vet will continue to work at the PAWS clinic 2 full days every month for the rest of the year and another UK team Janet Brenton and Karen Hancock will work for 2 weeks at the PAWS clinic from September 25th.
The figures so far this year for the first 5 months at the PAWS clinic are 126 cats neutered, 10 dogs and 24 other operations and/or consultations.
Lindsay would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard this year in helping PAWS improve animal welfare on Paxos.
Photos of the May trip below including Nelson!!