Society for the Protection of Stray Animals

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    A dog rescued by SPAZ enjoys looking at his photos in the annual calendar.
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    SPAZ members taking part in a demonstration in Athens against animal cruelty.
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    SPAZ members host a Christmas Bazaar to raise funds for their spay & neuter work. More than 20,000 dogs & cats have been sterilized through this amazing all-volunteer organization.
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    Ali Babouche

    One of the unexpected rescue missions SPAZ has undertaken is in removing badly neglected primates like these from local “attractions” and finding them sanctuary in Europe.

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    Ali, Resting

    Here you see what a difference SPAZ has made. These primates were taken to the AAP Primate Sanctuary in the Netherlands before ultimately finding a permanent home at the French zoo named Pescheray.

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    SPAZ Treasurer Fofi Dimitriadou is enjoying a tender moment with Gorbi (left) and Erli (right) at the shelter in Koropi. Both dogs have been successfully treated for the chilling disease known as Leishmaniasis which is transmitted by sand flies.
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    SPAZ helps provide emergency veterinary medicine for the dogs in the nearby Koropi shelter. At the moment SPAZ is trying to help find homes for some 40 dogs waiting for families.

SPAZ, the Society for the Protection of Stray Animals is a registered charity in Greece working in the southern suburbs of Athens for 25 years. It is run entirely by volunteers and 90% of the income is spent on neutering animals and providing emergency veterinary services. The financial crisis in Greece has affected animals as well as people and the demands on SPAZ this past year have been enormous. Our work is often heart-breaking but it makes us more determined than ever to keep going.

SPAZ concentrates on working as an effective local group, cooperating with local authorities, other animal welfare groups and citizens, in the common goal of stray animal population control. It is a gigantic task as the state pays little attention to the problem of strays and very few municipalities take any responsibility for them, even though the law clearly states that it IS their responsibility.

As one of the oldest established groups in the country, SPAZ offers help to newer groups; our leaflets are available free of charge (and now online); we extend our neutering program to others when possible; we produced a 2012 calendar with the names of 6 animal welfare groups to promote cooperation and send out a single message – people need to help strays – and we tell them how.

Since 1987 SPAZ has neutered more than 22,000 cats and dogs, 2500 in 2011 alone; we work with 7 vets in our neutering program and we are so grateful for their continued support. But now we want to move in a new direction. Neutering is still important but we need to spend more time on public awareness of companion animals and their needs and concentrate more on finding good homes and encouraging people to not buy dogs, cats or wild animals from pet shops, to protest against animal cruelty, to not abandon animals on the street, to understand that keeping dogs on a chain or on a balcony for life is animal abuse and to show them how their dog can become a valued member on the finally; and finally to put pressure on city officials to abide by the law and help look after the strays.

And we take on individual projects like helping to send 5 monkeys from EKPAZ, the wildlife center on the island of Aegina, to primate rescue centers organized by AAP (Wildlife Sanctuary in Holland), and 5 rescued reptiles to the Reptile Rescue Center in Munich, Germany. We are working with GAR (Greek Animal Rescue UK) to neuter the 40+ cats living at EKPAZ; it seems that people think a wildlife center is a good place to abandon cats! We also helped a family forced to leave Greece to take 19 of their dogs and cats back with them to Serbia, found homes for 18 cats and dogs and 2 sheep and are now working to home the 9 dogs they had to leave behind. And we must include the story of Mocca, the shy hunting dog nobody wanted in Greece, but a family in Canada asked to adopt her. Look at the before and after pictures and you will understand how helping one dog can be so important.

We are able to offer help in these situations because SPAZ does not run a shelter. We feel that we can be more effective by working on the street, by providing resources to our members to help them help the animals in their area. We earn all our own money through various fund-raising projects and thank Animal Rescue Chase for including us in their group of 16 international groups that they support. It is this kind of support that will help the animals of Greece.