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  Nr. 152 - Summer 2013
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Animal Talk: Donkey Day 2013

by Marielli Karkazi
Forty donkeys, mules and horses were treated when GAWF (Animal Action) vet Elisa Geskou and farrier Yiannis Vrastianos made their second visit to Paros in April. Their two-day itinerary was coordinated by state vet Nikos Tsigonias who, with his usual enthusiasm, linked the team with the many farmers on Paros who continue the tradition of working their farms with the aid of donkeys, mules and horses. Together Elisa and Yiannis make up one of Animal Action’s volunteer equine project teams who, each year, travel throughout Greece. “Our aim is to treat as many equines as we can and to work with owners to ensure the welfare of their animals,” said the vet, adding that the treatment is free, but donations are always welcome.

Usually the only treatment needed is hoof trimming so the animals can walk easily and teeth filing so they can eat. “If an equine’s teeth are too sharp at the back they cannot chew well, so their condition deteriorates and they can become ill,” Elisa explains to each owner she visits. “The problem with these animals, in my experience, is that without care they are accidents waiting to happen,” Yiannis added.

As the team worked around the island, the farrier’s accident theory proved to be true. Soon the team were dealing with a donkey whose leg had been trapped in barbed wire. As a result she was severely cut and was finding it hard to stand or walk.

“This wire is a disaster,” the farrier told us, “Once caught by it, it is impossible for the animal to free itself.” Together the team worked to clean and bandage the mare’s leg and started her on a 10-day course of antibiotics to prevent the wound becoming septic.

“Treating an animal with these sorts of wounds demands daily care,” the vet pointed out. “As well as giving the full course of antibiotics, the leg must be washed and re-bandaged daily for weeks, which needs dedication and commitment from the owner.” For that reason, the team worked with the owner on a care plan, and it is to his credit, and those who supported him, that at time of writing the donkey is still being treated in the way hoped for by the equine team.

“We are not here to judge, but to provide support and, of course, to remind people of the extensive laws on animal care here in Greece,” the vet, explained. As well as caring for this injured donkey, the team treated animals all over the island. “It is most rewarding to make new contacts,” they told us,”That way people see what we do and will get in touch when we return next year.”

And it is clear that trust is slowly building up as owners are beginning to contact vet Tsigonias to request a visit.

When asked what was different about Paros, the visitors were unanimous: “The amount of hobbling,” they said, “We understand why owners do it, but we would love to work together to find a better way of managing the animals. We will think about it and see how we can all work together next year.”

If you or anyone you know would welcome a visit from the GAWF Animal Action Team next year, look out for the posters advertising the date of the visit and give the contacts a call. To learn more about GAWF Animal Action or to make a donation, see: www.animalactiongreece.gr
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