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Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

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Columbus, OH
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Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

I have just returned from Santorini, a beautiful island. However, the beauty of the Caldera, and the beaches and other wonderful natural gifts was overshadowed by the tragedy I saw in the treatment of animals.

There are many, many stray dogs and cats in Santorini. When I first arrived I thought the dogs belonged to somebody because a lot of them had collars, however these are simply abondoned dogs left to fend for themselves because their owners have now left the island.

Seeing these dogs travel in packs or alone from one side of the island to another looking for food, water and some human companionship was extremely sad and will forever be ingrained in my memory.

I would like to put my money where my mouth is by asking the Greek people on this forum to help me help out this situation. Is there a foundation or a group of peoples that help these animals? Has there been any groups started to help with the neuter and spade of this animal population?

Can anyone tell me why these animals are discarded and treated this way?

I don't just want to whine and complain. I want to help in as much as I can from where I am in the States.

Thank you for reading.

Houston
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1. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

Hopefully the locals will answer your question, but from what I observed from the past 2 visits, it seemed to me that most of the ones in Oia, at least, were either owned or were taken care of by the residents or store owners. I routinely saw people bringing large quantities of food out for the few dogs that we saw roaming. They seemed to be happy and well fed. They slept in the doorways of shops or actually in the shops, and the owners didn't seem to mind at all. I left with a different feeling - that the village residents did care about the dogs. We stopped to pet almost every one we saw. We even recognized a couple from last year on this year's trip. I hope there is some sort of program in place, though, and I'll be interested to read what the locals have to say.

Columbus, OH
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2. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

Thank you cameragirl8. This helps me to know that maybe these animals are not as forgotten as I had thought. A local told me that the island sort of shuts down to tourists starting in October and that many of these hotels and restaurants and shops close down, so all these animals no longer get the food and shelter that they may get during the peak season. But, if you say you saw some of the animals from previous year's , then maybe it's not as bad as I feared.

Houston
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3. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

It may seem odd that I would recognize dogs from year to year, so let me explain my sickness..... :) I'm a scrapaholic. I make scrapbooks for our trips, and my favorite of all was the book I did on the Santorini portion of our trip. Since my kids and I are animal lovers, I ended up taking plenty of pictures of the dogs in Oia and made a 2-page spread on the "island orphans." We look at that book all the time - probably because we love Santorini so much and wish we could be there permanently! So, I don't have a photographic memory - - just lots of photos that get viewed often enough to allow me to recognize things - in this case, a few of the puppy faces. :)

Oregon
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4. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

I'm sorry to bring a dose of harsh reality to this, but I can tell you that unless an animal is actually "owned" by someone on the island it will, for the most part, go hungry and be neglected and sometimes abused by almost all of the locals. Cameragirl8, if you saw locals feeding them that's great, but that's by far the exception and not the rule. Most of these poor creatures are at the mercy of the more sympathetic visitors who feed them from the tables of the restaurants or from their rooms when the cats come for a handout. When you see animals that look "happy and well-fed" it's almost always because of this, and probably you've seen them looking that way only from the middle of the summer onward when they've had a chance to be fed by the visitors and recover from the off-season's scarcity of food and water. Earlier in the year they look pretty desperate and malnourished. Once the restaurants close and the tourists leave they're on their own until the beginning of the next season, sometime in April. Some survive, some starve to death. What you will also see is restaurant employees trying to kick at these little beggars, chasing them away from their stations thinking that their customers don't want them there, which is of course often true.

Overall, these wretched creatures have it rough, and if they survive it's a miracle. As far as I know there's no 'successful', organized, long-term effort to save and protect them from the harsh realities of their predicament. I have read of individuals trying to make a difference, but that doesn't last too long since the problem is actually quite overwhelming.

Houston
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5. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

Okay, well now I'm depressed. I guess I need to take off my rose-colored glasses from time to time. Poor little fellas! Surely there's some kind of help in the winter. Greeks are nice caring people! :)

Oregon
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6. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

Almost forgot:

On a lighter note, there was a village "survivor" dog, a feisty little rascal named Jimmy who ruled the roost in Oia in 1985. He was everywhere and managed to avoid the inevitable plight of most of the feral animal population at that time, ingratiating his way into the hearts of many of us who were there for the whole season, and who made sure he was fed and watered. Years later I went to visit my brother in Spokane. We went out for dinner to a Greek restaurant, and there were the requisite photos of the Greek Island Blue-Domed Churches, etc. all over the walls. As my eyes roamed around the dining room they came to rest on the photo right over my head. It was Jimmy in all his glory! Someone had captured his 'essence' as the village mascot and turned it into a poster! Made me laugh and cry at the same time to see him there on the wall.

Long Live Jimmy and all his pals...........................

Columbus, OH
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7. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

brotherleelove - thank you for your feedback. You seem to have a good insight on what is happening. If you don't mind, would you mind sharing your insight with me on why you think the locals behave this way towards the animals? is it cultural? Generally speaking, are the Greek people not inclined to care for animals like maybe some other parts of the world? I am trying to understand. Neutering and spading isn't so expensive that it's cost prohibitive. And, it's certainly a better alternative than to have such a beautiful island be run over by poor starving innocent animals.

Oregon
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8. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

You ask difficult questions. I don't have any sort of definitive answer, but I don't think it's cultural. In their heart of hearts I'm sure they're as compassionate as anyone else. I'm guessing it's because it seems like such an overwhelming and neverending problem. People everywhere get desensitized when confronted by situations over which they feel they have no control. It's not about logic or common sense or a "better alternative", it's about daily life and getting by. They are pragmatic, and in that regard perhaps there is a cultural aspect to it. It wasn't long ago that the island was decimated by an earthquake, in 1956, and I'm sure the most important thing on the minds of the residents was self-preservation. If it's not their animal it's not their problem.

One other possible aspect of this is that a great many of the business operators don't live on the island except during tourist season, and don't consider these sort of problems to be theirs since they're not thought of (or don't think of themselves) as "locals". It's easy for them to just chase the offending animal away and let someone else deal with it. Sad, but true.

Of course that's not to say there aren't locals who help out by feeding and caring for the strays as much as they can, but they are in the minority.

Portsmouth, United...
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9. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

There used to be an "adopt a stray" program on Santorini - it may still be in effect. You could contact:

Santorini Animal Welfare Association (SAWA)"

"sterilises and tries to rehome stray dogs and cats, treats injured and ill street animals, equines and wildlife. Contact Margarita on 22860-31482."

For donations, follow the link:

http://www.kalliste.de/thera/hunde01.htm#sawa

Best R

Paris , France
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10. Re: Stray dogs and cats in Santorini

Hi chowgirl,

even though I visit this site every single day trying to help people around, this is the first time I saw your post and that means someone tough of answering to your call

the reality is that In Greece people resist on the idea of fixing the domestic animals..

They believe that

copulation is a pleasure and nature can arange its creatures in a way to survive from what is left from human food like they do with pigs, lambs, or even donkeys and horses...

A dog is good for hunting and a cat to eat mouse, so they fed them to stay next but not in their houses....

The last years , mentality has started to change, but it certainly will take ages, since the several thousands of years Greek culture

has resisted in any influence so far, even during 4000 years of Islamic occupation under the Othman Empire...

As far as the tourists will love the donkey rides up the hill even though the cable car solution is present, don't except anyone to believe that if someone really needs to help the street animals can do any better than take them back home as i did with my cats from my house when I was obliged to seek a social support and a new job away of the local tourist industry...

There are people visiting several times this island only to feed and fix the street animals and sometimes they have to face the same reactions like I did in my shop when I was keeping cats instead of door talking sellers , at least this is what people think when a cat is protecting its territory by holding the entrance position....

Through the links below you can meet Esther site and contact her in English if you really insist on doing something at least to feed them or better if you need a new cat in your house from Santorini

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i1121-Follow_th…