Sunday, May 20, 2012

‘Nobody helps us in this town’: Greeks’ discouragement about economy makes animal rescue harder

Kyllini, abandoned dog with severe mange and inflamed eyes

It was not a good time to even dream about another rescue.

On my way to get one ex-street dog to Athens in time for her flight to a bright new future with rescue group Graeske Hunde in Denmark, I drove into the western Greece port town of Kyllini and immediately spotted a mange-infested but friendly dog wandering the streets.

After snapping a couple of photo of “Kyllini,” as I’d quickly named him—and almost getting pancaked by a speeding truck in the process—I left Diamandi in the car for just a couple of minutes to try to find someone to help.

At the near-empty taverna across the street sat two elderly gentlemen in neatly-pressed shirts and trousers passing the time with coffee and conversation, and two young women in T-shirts and jeans doing the same.

One of the young women, a twenty-something with curly hair, seemed to be in charge of the place.

“Do you know anything about that dog?” I asked in Greek.

“What dog?” she asked in return.

“He’s black and tan, with a skin condition. He looks very messed up.”

Curly Hair shrugged and took a drag on her cigarette.

The other young woman spoke up.  “I know which one you mean. Poor thing. He was abandoned. Somebody left him here.”

“Are people at least feeding him?”

“Some of the tavernas throw him food,” said Curly Hair, examining her painted nails with extreme interest.

The more sympathetic woman shook her head. “It’s terrible what happens here in Greece. I hate it. Animals are not respected. Where are you from? I bet it’s better there.”

“I’m from the U.S., and I wouldn’t say it’s much better.  We have about as many problems and only a few semi-solutions. Is there a local rescue group we could call to help?”

Curly Hair laughed hoarsely. “Nobody helps us in this town.  They don’t help people. You think anyone’s going to help a dog?”

“Kyllini doesn’t have a rescue group?”

“I think maybe we used to,” said the sympathetic woman, “but not anymore.”

Squinting, Curly Hair lit another cigarette. “Everything is disappearing. Everything is going away.”

You’re too young, I wanted to say, to be smoking so much, and to be so disillusioned.

“If people cared any about animals before, they care even less now,” said her friend.

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, but I wished it would be the last. Whether correct or not, that perception opened the door to shoulder-shrugging, fatalist pessimism, which is harder than a brick wall when you’re trying to help animals.

Please see next article about Kyllini and Diamandi.

For more about Kyllini, Diamandi, and more dogs and humans, please visit The Dozen Dog Diaries again soon.
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