If you are a pet lover, beyond cats and dogs, you may find Animal Welfare on Crete a bit of a controversial, even sad subject sometimes, for the Greek culture has not traditionally been what we mainly urbanised British ex-patriates would call animal friendly. In truth, the mainly rural Crete lifestyle reflects the practical side of day-to-day existence on the island, such as rearing and killing animals for consumption and their products.So when it comes to domesticated animals, here's the rub, that is where we may misunderstand and find contradictions that conflict with our own views on caring for pets and other creatures.Most cats are feral and there are many stray dogs wandering around. Perhaps with the cats being feral, this a throwback to the Minoan period on Crete akin to the Ancient Egyptians where cats were revered in those times?
Again on the practical side, veterinarians can be thin on the ground in Crete and until the last five years or so, neutering/spaying the animals was virtually unheard of. During this time, Northern Europeans started to take up residence in Crete in growing numbers with their own values, along of course with the one million+ visitors each summer to our sunny isle - known to the rest of Greece, as "Melaganissos" - the Big Island.All dogs have to microchipped and supposed to be given the appropriate vaccinations. Perhaps many local residents on Crete do not bother. Or, they find it is too expensive. Few dogs and cats with Greek owners are neutered/spayed. For other Europeans, these are often priorities and necessary. "Different mind - set, different values" is how that cultural comparison can best be described.
The plain truth is that Crete is still very rural and therefore it follows that most local Crete families rear their animals for food. Dogs are used in guard duties and hunting. Cats keep down the vermin. They are not thought of as pets for the most part, although things are changing with the much more Eurocentric values of today's generation. They are growing up with better exposure to the media and Internet on the more caring treatment of animals, and animal husbandry as practised by other Europeans. There are organisations - animal shelters and private groups, set up on Crete and run by both Greeks and by foreigners with the mission to help alleviate the root causes of the problems and educate on the importance of proper animal husbandry.
The first and best known of the animal shelters is The Haven in Malia , also known as C.A.W.G. run by Gayner, from Birmingham originally, with her husband Michaelis. Gayner and her volunteers work tirelessly to not only look after the strays they have, and re-house them in UK and Germany but to try and alert the authorities and those members in the community with influence to do something about the mistreatment of animals. Here are some statistics to make you realise what they are up against. More of CAWG on Facebook
|The CAWG (Haven) Statistics|
|New Arrivals in the Haven in 2005||Running Costs for 2005|
32 Injured/Sick Puppies or Dogs
18 Sick or Injured Kittens or Cats
|Food for 50 Dogs €6000
Food for 30 Cats €2880
Re-homing Costs for 30 Dogs €7500
Re-homing Costs for 20 Cats €4000
Running Cost for the Shelter 2005
This amount of money could have paid for 1000 animals to be neutered
An animal welfare Group serving Western Crete is called "Arche Noah Creta". Their web site in German and English can be found at www.archenoah-kreta.com. They too are working hard to alleviate some of the suffering of the stray domestic animals on Crete. Their animal shelter is located between Rethymnon and Chania (Hania/Xania).
The Cats Pyjamas Rescue is a non-profit organization that is based in Apokoronas near Chania, Northwest Crete. It supports local cats with food, medicine & veterinary care with the help of donations, volunteers & charities. It can be found on Facebook or its own website .
This is their link. The site is in English and German also. There is a branch in Plakias that started in 2005. In 2006, the group says its two animal shelters jointly re-housed almost 300 dogs and 43 cats in Greece and abroad. The group has close links with both Archenoah-Kreta and C.A.W.G.
FILOZOIKOS is the official bi-lingual site of this Elounda, Crete - Local Animal Welfare Group which is a registered charity. The group maintains two year round feeding stations: one in Agios Nikolaos and one in Elounda. As with other Crete animal support groups, rescued animals are placed into temporary foster homes. German vets on visits to Crete, sterilize them as a means to control animal population. The group gives lectures in local schools to help youngsters understand the need for animal welfare and how to be good practitioners. Many rescued dogs after treatment are flown to Germany and Switzerland to new homes, helped by Arche Noah - Crete.
Cretan Cat-a-List is a newly formed animal charity, registered in September 2006. Cat-a-list is committed to helping all animals in need, but their main focus is the welfare of cats. Cat-a-List is staffed entirely by volunteers living in and around Rethymno who take care of the animals in their own homes. More on Cretan Cat-a-list or on Facebook.
The Voice of the Cats Alliance(VOCAL) is looking after the interests of our feline friends in Mavrikiano, Elounda, Lassithi and operate mainly in the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos and surrounding areas. The group is supported by INCO, the Foreign Residents Association. or on Facebook.
P.A.W.S. is a small voluntary animal welfare organisation established in 2009 and based in Istron, Kalo Horio, in Lasithi, Eastern Crete, Greece. The group is dedicated to helping the plight of animals wherever it can. More on P.A.W.S. or on Facebook.
The Mirtos Animal project is a foundation set up in 1999 involved in animal welfare on Crete. The foundation is run by volunteers in the Netherlands and on Crete. Mirtos (or Myrtos) is a picturesque seaside resort 15 kms west of Ierapetra in the Southeast of Crete. More on the Mirtos Animal Project website or on Facebook.
Cretan Animal protection became a legal charity in late August 2009. The association was formed to raise funds to care for all stray dogs and cats in the Gouves, Gournes and Kokkini Xani area of Heraklion Prefecture. More on Cretan Animal Protection website or Facebook.
This animal welfare group or "alliance" in Siteia was started in 1999 by a group of local Cretan residents. Now a legal charity AWS helps rescue and protect all types of creatures in Sitia, the surrounding area and municipality. To fight the scourge of animal poisoning, AWS promotes a motto, abrreviated as: "PWT" - if you see meat lying around in the street, here is what AWS proposes you should do: Pick it up, Wrap it up and Throw it away! -- into a nearest wheelie bin of course.More on the AWS Sitia website.
The Independent Animal Welfare Group, Skepasti is based in the mountain village of Skepasti near Perama, Rethymnon. The area the group covers includes Panormo, Perama, Bali and surrounding villages.The animal support group was formed in January 2010 to deal mainly with cats but have assisted with dogs/puppies. During its first year the Skepasti animal lovers have held numerous fund raising events to help fund their challenging work. Support comes from the local village school too. The children have been encouraged to be involved and learn how to care for pets. The children even designed the group's logo (Logo coming soon). The Skepasti group is a "cause" on Facebook.
Heraklion Council have run their municipal animal shelter and rescue centre since 2004. More on the Dimos Iraklio Municipal Animal Shelter - mainly in Greek, but some pages in English.
The Aegean Wildlife Centre treats and rehabilitates most of the wild animals which have been found to be injured (often deliberately) around the Greek islands. This can happen when birds in particular are migrating or become ill through other causes. Usually the creatures are initially resuscitated and when well enough to face a journey usually by sea are transferred to the Paros sanctuary's specialist care.
Neutering of cats on Corfu is the main task of this group.
GAR is a UK based charity (No:802243), founded in 1989 in order to alleviate the suffering and rescue of animals in Greece. The Canadian branch of the Greek Animal Rescue organisation is GARCanada - an extremely active and in helping re-home rescued animals from Greece to Canadian homes. Their motto is: "You can't save every animal in the world but, for the one you do save, it IS the world."
Then, there is a great web site if you are an animal lover called WorldAnimal.net. Another, is the W.S.P.A. - The World Society for the Protection of Animals. All have connections with animal support groups in Crete.
In NEA FILADELPHIA in Athens this group's mission is to take in and protect animals found roaming the streets in the suburb. The group is a registered charity #25700. It strives to cultivate productive collaboration with the local government for the resolution of animal rights related issues and the education of the public. Click to **Support International Animal Rescue!**
If you know of other animal shelter or animal protection websites on CRETE, elsewhere in Greece or abroad, please contact the Brits in Crete webmaster, so your organisation or others can be included on this page.
When is a true donkey story in Greece a good one? When it was posted in Brits in Crete Forum! Animals in Crete can have a happy ending.
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A reminder that under the Pet Travel Scheme (dogs, cats and ferrets only), can be carried by air between the Crete airport gateways of Heraklion or Chania and the UK, and vice versa as per the following details:
For Chania Airport pets can be carried on flights to and from London Gatwick or Manchester. The UK Authorised carrier is Thomson Airways.
UPDATED June 2014: In recent changes, Aegean Airlines is approved from Heraklion and Chania to handle pets to London Heathrow. Certain EU carriers have been added to the approved list to carry Pets between Greece/Cyprus and the UK. These include Cyprus Airways for London Heathrow and Manchester; Monarch Airlines for London Gatwick and Manchester and Olympic Air for London Heathrow.
As for flights between Heraklion and Manchester, London Gatwick and Glasgow you can use Thomas Cook Airlines or Thomson Airways. The latter airline also serves Bristol, Doncaster and Edinburgh. British Airways is already pre-approved when it re-starts its flights between Heraklion and Glasgow in 2015. (LHR is also approved, by the way).
Notes: 1. Greece's conditions of animal entry are more relaxed than UK's and therefore to ship pets from UK by air has more choices. 2. Rules change, so check the latest information from DEFRA
The Aquaworld Aquarium is one of the best places to see Crete's Fauna (wildlife) close up. The venue is in Hersonissos, about 30 minutes drive east of Heraklion. Aquaworld is a family run enterprise, friendly and well worth a visit. It makes great day out with the kids and a bit of education to go with it sees the exhibits close up. From the Heraklion direction, it is just off the main road, in town, behind Xalkiadakis large supermarket, on entering the built up area on the right hand side of road.
Dog = Σκυλί (sk-ee-li),
Dog food = τρόφιμα σκυλιών (trofima skeeli-on),
Cat = γάτα (gata),
Cat food = τρόφιμα γατών (trofima gat-on),
Snake = φίδι (fee-dee),
Reptile = ερπετό (airpet-o)
Page details updated June 2014: By the way, horses have their own passport scheme similar to the "Pet Passport" scheme. As regards other pets, you should be aware that there are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, ornamental fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from other EU countries.