Τhis is Zak. He is a rescue donkey from Koropi. When I first adopted him he was half his current weight. He was terrified of EVERYTHING. Now? Now he is so cheeky. He is scared of nothing.» – Luisa, Zak’s owner.
It’s donkeys like Zak and owners like Luisa that make our hearts swell with pride for what we do! The loudest voice isn’t always the right one, and by that, we mean that not all equine owners in Greece are irresponsible! On the contrary the majority of the owners we meet love their animals deeply and sometimes all they really need is someone to give them proper advice. And that was the case with our Hydra visit this October.
On 8-9 October 2018, Elisa Geskou (vet), Aris Vlachakis (farrier) and Alkis Geskos (dentist) visited the island of Hydra, where they treated a total of 87 equines in two days! All the equines had their teeth rasped for sharp edges and their hooves trimmed. Most importantly, the team had the opportunity to give the owners lots of veterinary advice on issues such as skin allergies, management of chronic laminitis cases and diet management of obese equines. Along with our CEO, Paul McGlone, we also had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Mayor of Hydra, Mr. Ioannis Belegris, and talked with him about the importance of creating sun shelters and water troughs for the working equids of the island. GAWF/Animal Action Hellas has been campaigning on this important issue for years now, along with HydraArk and other Animal Welfare groups. We are lobbying the authorities on the island’s behalf to overcome the objections so that we can see the plans for permanent sun shelters and water troughs installed. This would dramatically improve the welfare for the working mules and donkeys during the tourist season.
Hydra has been an annual visit destination for our Equine Programme for many years, and as a result, we have come to know a big number of the owners pretty well. Like Luisa, who watches everything the vets do so that she can do all the after-care once they are gone. Or like Miss Tasia, who despite her age, never fails to bring both of her donkeys, Bebeka and Bebekaki, for a check-up. “I’ve had Bebeka for 23 years and Bebekaki for 15” she tells us. “Some people tell me that I should give them away. That I would have bought a new donkey with all that money I spend on their medicines. But I couldn’t ever do that. They are my whole life” ,she continues, while offering us fresh orange juice.
We would also like to thank The Donkey Sanctuary for funding this outreach, as well as “Hydra Ark” for organizing the local owners and the Municipality of Hydra for offering accommodation and meals for our team.