Day 61: Corfu. Never mind the bo***cks
I’m learning a lot about dogs out here in Greece.
Or rather, I’m learning a lot about us humans – and the way that we relate to dogs.
Many of the people of Corfu, and I’m told much of Greece, hold a set of beliefs about animal welfare that I find hard to comprehend but which I am beginning to hear is common across much of the world.
BELIEF 1) Dogs should not be neutered. It is cruel.
BELIEF 2) Dogs should never ever be put to sleep however bad. It is morally wrong.
Both of these beliefs lead to a vast amount of suffering and ought to be challenged.
Weirdly, it is considered acceptable by some of these same people to leave puppies in boxes by the sides of the road or to poison them when they become a pest in the community. People like Cheryl at CARE where I am working have to mop up the effects of this.
Neutering – a pain in the balls?
A stray bitch can have two litters a year, and those pups can start reproducing within 6 months. If each bitch has three or more puppies (some can have eight or more) its easy to see how an exponential population explosion can occur. What keeps the population under control? Sickness, starvation, road accident or poisoning. A nice natural death from old age is not high up on the list of those things that kill a stray dog.
There are estimated to be more than 400 million stray dogs in the world. Neutering is a VAST VAST issue Frankly, I’d probably do more good for the world by walking around with a pair of scissors cutting off balls than I would by doing anything else. Lack of neutering is no joke.
And what about putting dogs to sleep?
I sympathise with those people that think no animal should ever be put to sleep – at least they have concern about the creatures. But even though some of the strongest advocates for animal rights are against euthanasia I disagree. To keep an animal alive that is suffering without any hope of recovery or a reasonable quality of life or recourse to proper pain relief is a case of compassion-gone-wrong. And compassion gone wrong can be a dangerous thing indeed – it’s like being met by a man after you’ve had a bloody car crash who has a first aid kit but who doesn’t know how to use it. No…please do NOT put the plaster over my mouth.
I once saw a stray horse in Guatemala hobbling around the street with a broken leg that bent the wrong way when it walked on it. I was told it had no hope of recovery (horses unlike dogs need all four legs to take their weight) but no one would end its life. That image of the broken horse has remained in the clutter of my mind for many years.
I’ve been a number of days with Cheryl and CARE and the work she does is inspirational and exhausting. On top of this she is a humble, likeable, and apart from her super-human efforts, a normal woman. I can never be as strong as her, just as I could never do the incredible work of Trevor Weeks at WRAS. However she works with a fairly select number of animals and there is only so much I can do to be of assistance.
I’m now heading to the south of the island to see another rescue operation where they have a vast number of adult abandoned dogs in their care.
Furthermore I’ve been told of something rather curious that I want to check out. There is, so I’ve heard, a government sponsored dog ‘sanctuary’ in the centre of island , very hard to find but notorious all the same, run by two old women who have a reputation for hoarding dogs and, how shall I put it, not treating them with the highest of care. The rumours are fairly vicious and the few people I’ve talked about it have strong views on the matter. But animal welfare brings out extreme reactions – I need to check this place out for myself. Perhaps I could help a few dogs?
But first I have to find out where it is -the location is no well publicised – and the woman in the South of the island whose sanctuary I am going to visit has some information. I’m on my scooter and heading to see more dogs.