GAWF/Animal Action's Equine team consisting of veterinarian Michael Gaganis, and farrier Aris Vlachakis, visited Santorini for 2 days, on the 6th of June.

On the first day our vet visited "Caldera", to check the well-being of equines there and speak to the owners. After many incidents that have happened there, it is a fact that the owners were initially reluctant to being open and sharing information. However after a couple of hours they became more relaxed and showed a lot of interest in our discussion.

Some of them also asked for help and advice about their animals, and were happy to take us to them for a quick assessment. Their condition was good in general, which is a result of many efforts from our organizations in the past. However there are many owners there, with a lot of equines each, and because there is a law that allows them to have a maximum of 6 mules working at the spot per day, one only gets to see the ones that are in the best condition.

Equipment-wise, things have indeed improved over the last years; however there is still room for better solutions so they can avoid certain types of injuries that may occur because of the harnesses they use. We managed to collect data from 8 owners that were there at the time, after talking with them for some time, and checking some of their mules.

After our time in Caldera and during our teams' stay, 40 more equines were examined around the island and in the shelter, most of which were mules and some donkeys. The majority of the work that was done involved retired mules 9in the SAWA shelter) that had various problems like lameness due to founder, osteoarthritis and various hoof ailments, dentistry issues and more, that were dealt with by our team. Two teeth extractions were performed by our vet, who also had to treat a wounded donkey, and a mule suffering from an eye injury. At the same time our farrier was correcting many of the animal’s hooves that were overgrown, especially in the ones that don't do a lot of work.

Other cases involved a heavy parasite infection, a wounded mule with an inflamed carpus and a case of blindness. Treatments were given were possible and further instructions to the owners on how to proceed with the treatment the following days. It's worth noting that during the time our team was in the shelter, a German journalist from RTL was filming a documentary and interviewed our team members.

Our many thanks go to the Donkey Sanctuary, the Santorini Animal Welfare Organization and local vet Margarita Valvi.