Thank you so much to all of our volunteers, especially during this particularly cold and wet winter!
This month's report comes from Peter, one of our winter feeding volunteers.
As an animal lover, particularly cats, when I arrived on Symi in 2010 I wanted to do something to help the animals over the winter so offered to help with the winter feeding programme. Melanie allocated me a regular feeding station and arranged for a 20kg bag and tins of cat food to be delivered to my flat.
The first time I went to the allocated feeding station, the cats were extremely nervous and shy. They did not even come near the food that I had put out until I had moved well away from them. All through the winter, two or three times a week I regularly went to the feeding station to delivery some more food. It was not until I had been going for a couple of months that the cats started to overcome their nervousness and feel comfortable with me delivering food.
Towards the end of the first winter one of the cats started "escort" me to and from the feeding station as if to say thank you. I passed the feeding station on a couple of occasions in the summer to be greeted with disapproval because I did not feed them. (I now have to avoid that area)
On my first visit to the feeding station in November 2011, the cats all immediately greeted me as if there had not been a break for summer. Today, it is noticeable that as soon as I get near the feeding station, the cats all gather round waiting for the food.
The kittens who recently went over to the vet on Rhodes have each recovered well, in fact they were eating, playing and climbing about almost instantly! We have managed to provide a small amount of extra foodstuffs to the 'busiest' feeding stations, essential in the continuing bad weather. Reports from our volunteers suggest that most of the cats who initially came to feed in November are still around, proving that the regular albeit small quantity of food has kept them alive during the winter months. Your donations have made this happen, thank you!
Sadly, little Django didn't survive, her disabilities were too much and she could fight her demons no longer. At least she was safe from harm and so loved for her 5 short months of life.
Our website is a great success, we've received comments from the UK, Greece and Poland so far. The most recent message was from someone living on another island in the Dodecanese: she contacted us asking for details of vets on Rhodes (20 cats 'collected along the way' were mentioned) so good luck Kathy, hope you have enough cat-boxes!
A young dog, rescued last summer, will soon be on his way to a new home. A summer resident found him and made sure that he has been well-cared for during the winter, she is also organising the relocation through a German Animal charity. Symi Animal Welfare will be providing the special crate for his journey to Munich. We would like to thank everyone concerned in giving Bobby such a wonderful new life away from the streets.
Cheerio then from a blustery, bright but cold Symi, Melanie
Five rescued kittens and an adult cat are on an adventure today, they were on the boat at 8am on their way to Rhodes, for an important appointment. There has been no visiting vet on the island for over twelve months which means that kitten numbers during the winter seem to have increased somewhat. Two of our volunteers took the initiative to take some cats to be neutered today, returning this evening, all six cats are in loving homes so will be well cared for. At least another three rescue kittens will be taken over to a vet by the end of February.
The winter feeding continues; over the last week of extreme cold, windy and sometimes stormy weather, the street cats have found warmth and shelter wherever possible, they have been spotted in all sorts of unusual nooks and crannies! Our volunteers have reported back just how excited the cats are when fresh food turns up and, at certain stations, they begin eating the food before the container has even been emptied. Long gone is the wariness and fear of humans, it's survival of the fittest during a Symi winter!
There aren't the dog-packs which have caused so many problems in past winters, especially within the farming community. It is noticeable how may local families are now adopting puppies.
Younger parents and school teachers seem to be far more aware of animal issues and don't want their children growing up with an intense fear/dislike of cats and dogs, so encourage them to befriend an animal rather than be cruel to it. Such a sway in tradition is such good news.
We have recently received some winter donations via the Paypal link on the home page. Many many thanks for those and for your continuing support.
I leave you with some more pictures of Symi cats to brighten up the dark winter days:
Well done Allan Robinson for setting up the new Symi Animal Welfare website, he has worked so hard to get it up and running at last. It will now be possible to read all about the team and our year-round activities and also enjoy looking at a 7ew of Symi's cats and dogs whenever you want! The pages have information about our beginnings and will include our monthly reports.
Foodstuffs were distributed a couple of weeks ago and the weather has been pretty good which means that the street cats have had a really good start to the forthcoming winter period. Some of the early-winter kittens are now in caring homes and we will be monitoring the younger street cats when food is taken to the 19 feeding stations.
We would like to wish all of our supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your generosity during 2011
With love from Claudia, Christina, Hazel, Suzan, Tove and Melanie
Many thanks to SAW for our meat and biscuits!
From the Pedi Cats: Claus, The Hammer, Bailey, The Mouse, Pelligrino, Dyan, Merkury, Bin Laden, Butch, Carmellopadelli, Spiky/Speedy and Ugly. Not forgetting Merkel, Sarkosy and Obama (the triplets) and Assad, Gaddafi and Mubarack plus little 'orphan sausage cat' who was dumped a couple of weeks ago!
Over the last few days, we have seen a sudden change in the weather here on Symi - there have been several days of heavy rainfall and a noticeable drop in temperatures. The Greek visitors for the recent Panormitis festival have gone, leaving an extremely damp island feeling very quiet indeed. The few remaining restaurants, bars and businesses, still open after the end of October departures, have now ceased trading for the winter too , leaving a reasonable selection which stay open all year round.
Of course the rubbish bins aren't so full at the end of the summer. In fact in the autumn when people clean their houses in preparation for the winter months there is more evidence of old TVs, burned-out BBQs and broken plastic chairs than food scraps! Which of course, isn't good news for the street cat population, many of whom have relocated to the nearest skip after the summer resident who has been feeding them has packed up the house and gone away for the winter. Without a vet visit for 12 months, there are so many kittens in all areas. Fortunately, most of them have been born to healthy mothers, so they seem fairly fit and strong, we hope strong enough to survive the winter months.
Foodstuffs for the feeding programme were ordered a while ago, but most has not yet arrived - due to the minimal ferry service and recent bad weather. One supermarket delivered a batch earlier today so I am assuming that the other shopkeepers will follow soon and it can be distributed to our volunteers (covering 19 feeding stations again this time!)
456 cans of food + 114 kilos pasta + 380 kilos of biscuits should keep our street cats happy for a good while! This food is paid for from donations throughout the summer months, 2 supermarkets have also contributed towards the feeding programme.
Thank you all so very much.
The few lucky kittens who have been rescued continue to grow - Stevie, Chloe and Jack at the Sunrise, Django at our house, at least 4 up at the farm, 15 bundles of joy in Pedi......the list is endless.
One of our supporters recently found, in the harbour, a cat with a smashed paw, it really was in bad way. She offered to take it over to one of the Rhodes' vets and thankfully, the foot was saved. The young cat will remain with a family here on Symi, who will care for him permanently. Two dogs are no longer living on the streets, both have been given a home, one up in the mountains, the second not so far away.
As some of you who have recently visited Symi will have noticed, there are so many kittens around. Without a regular vet visit this was bound to be the situation, however, we were delighted to listen to so many comments as to how healthy most of them are.
Our volunteers try to monitor the progress of any litters nearby providing water and any other support required by either the youngsters or the mother cat. Several young cats are now in loving homes. These are the ones we know about:
Jack is now at the Sunrise Kafeneion, his exploits and photos are a regular feature on Facebook I'm told 2 litters are being well cared for by a volunteer in Pedi.
Django, who unfortunately is blind, has been at our home since he was just 3 weeks old. Getting stronger each day, he has acclimatised to his surroundings, his antics at times are just so comical!
An 8 year old rescue cat will soon be on his way to England as his carers have given up their holiday home here.
Many older rescue animals who you all know - Delfi, Loulou, Boogie, Betty, Kookie, Reg and Tasha - were given the joint birthday of September 22nd! Loulou and Delfi are gorgeous 9 year olds now.
Several harbour kittens are now living on a farm up in the mountains, with a big softie, adopted uncle rescue dog.
We would like to thank everyone for your kind donations this summer, in particular may we say a special thankyou to Christine from Orkney and Angelos, Nina and family from Cyprus/London for their generosity.
Your support will enable us to continue our work and also the winter feeding programme 2011 - 2012.
Temperatures on Symi are increasing almost daily at the moment, we are getting hotter by the minute as are our animal friends. With so many new kittens around, the 'mums' are struggling to keep their offspring cool - they move the little ones from one place to another, following the sun and shade around at different times of the day.
Can we please, please ask therefore that, however cute they look, you do not pick up young kittens and move them. Should one seem in danger from passing cars and bikes etc, simply shoo it to a nearby, safer spot. When 'mum' returns and is unable to find the kitten she fears the worst and gives up trying to find it eventually. Frequently, especially if the kitten is too young, the consequences are either fateful or it certainly becomes very weak. Mum will not accept it back after the 'kidnapper's holiday has ended either.
Same request as always - a plastic container containing fresh water, left in a shaded and safe spot, is always welcome. Word of warning though, if you do this near to your accommodation, the water supply also attracts the ants who too get very thirsty in this weather.
Your kind donations continue to come and, every now and again, they arrive via an unusual source - at a recent wedding on the island, the guests were asked to make a donation to Symi Animal Welfare.
Thank you so much Kate and Alastair for such a thoughtful gesture and of course, thank you wedding guests!
Symi's street cats seem happy and healthy as they chase about in the Spring sunshine. Well fed through the winter months, they are now relocating to bins near to hotels and restaurants, all now open for the first tourists of the new season. Only this morning, visitors have commented to me, just how good the cats are looking. There will soon be quite a few kittens and in this better weather and more opportunity for tit-bits etc, they stand a much greater chance of survival.
On a sad note, little Eric is in kitty-heaven. The quality of his life wasn't improving and his new home didn't prove to be the solution Claudia hoped for. We are all very sad and tried to give him the best chance we could.
Now, before the Symi-rumours get totally out of hand, here is an amusing Symi Animal Welfare tale for you -
I went to our nearest supermarket yesterday morning and took Loulou along. We often do this and, whilst shopping, tie her lead to a gate outside the store. She is quite used to this so sits waiting patiently until it's time to go. I finished the shopping, came home and made sandwiches for lunch. We'd just finished eating when a friend rang and said 'don't you want your dog anymore?.............. Gulp.........I'd left her at the shop and neither of us had even realised (my first-ever senior moment I swear!) Luckily, our neighbour had spotted her, along with several other people who all know her (I'll never live this down!) so brought her back. She was really excited with all the attention and isn't traumatised by her ordeal, so we can't be reported for cruelty to animals!
We wish you a Happy Easter and Kalo Pasca
Someone asked the question recently - 'Now that you no longer bring a UK vet over to Symi, what exactly do you do?'
Symi Animal Welfare consists of a small group of international volunteers living permanently on the island. We are not on some sort of crusade, we are quite simply, animal-lovers doing the best we can to improve and monitor the welfare of Symi's street animals. Throughout the year, we try to raise sufficient funds to continue with the following objectives:-
By the close of 2010, Symi Animal Welfare had spent 711euro of foodstuffs for the winter-feed programme and 536euro on medical supplies.
As always, we thank you for your generosity and support. This enables us to continue helping the animals of Symi.
The Faros vet visit was a great succes with many animals treated. Symi Animal Welfare volunteers were amongst the flow of people taking along pets and rescue animals requiring attention (the vets will only treat animals with an owner's permission, which is difficult as you can appreciate?)
Unfortunately we were unable to locate the cat with the fish-hook in its mouth during the period the vets were around; as Tove has mentioned, the skin condition is much improved and the fish-hook dislodged. He tends to wander all over the village but knows where the feeding stations are and is frequently around when food is taken.
We were able to take the cat from Pedi. During the summer months visitors were most concerned about this particular cat as her face was in a bad way. We managed to establish who was feeding the cat and asked if he would allow us to take her to the visiting vets. However, with a cancer on the nose, sadly, the vets advised that the best option was to put her sleep.
Two of the Symi Animal Welfare committee also persuaded a local woman to take her dog for neutering (in the past, her puppies have literally been abandoned by the dustbins)
There are a lot of kittens around, particularly in the harbour, some appear much stronger than others. We are monitoring their progress as much as possible and a few have already been adopted. The weather continues to be fairly mild with little rain and there are at least 7 feeding stations in that area so at least the kittens are getting a good start.
A new station this year is at Nimborio. Someone kindly offered to go to the bins near to Nirides apartments at least twice a week, whilst walking they had spotted at least 7 cats and 3 kittens so were concerned about them going hungry.
We would like to thank Lukas for his generosity - when I called into his supermarket to pay for 50kg of cat biscuits ordered from him, he wouldn't accept any money.
May we take this opportunity to wish you love and happiness at Christmas-time and for the New Year.
As always, we thank you for your constant support and generosity.
It's that time of year.......when, in the ground floor of our house, there are stacks of cat food tins, mounds of pasta and sacks of biscuits. The supermarkets chose yesterday to deliver them, our own animals thought all their birthdays had come at once! For save-keeping and, to avert the 'family' chewing through the biscuit sacks, we stored them in the bathroom overnight (only room in our house with a door), the smell in there this morning in pretty 'high' to say the least!
These supplies are for feeding stations at upper and lower Lieni, Pedi, Windmills, Village Square, Kastro, Thanassis and Kampos, we hope to get everything distributed within a few days. Volunteers feeding cats at the Gymnasio, Lemonitissa, Technical school, Museum and Lavinia stations will be collecting their supplies later today directly from a local supermarket.
So too will the harbour-area volunteers, their supplies are waiting for collection from supermarkets down there: cats in Pitini, Town Square, Harani, Opera House and Petalo will be receiving food several times a week again this year. I must mention that both Hatzipetros and Sotiris Supermarkets instantly made donations of food, such animal lovers, Sotiris and Dino give a donation each year. Thank you to them for their support and help with deliveries etc.
Our winter feeding programme is only possible, thanks to donations received. This year, your generosity has been outstanding, many, many thanks. You will all be pleased to hear then, that within a few days, the street cats of Symi will be enjoying a regular feed for the entire winter period.
The FAROS vets will be here on 18, 19 and 20 November and will hold a clinic up in the Village, please look out for posters giving more information.
No report from Symi this month, just a beautiful story sent to Hazel by one of our supporters. Animals deserve all the love, care and attention we can give them, in a very small way, Symi Animal Welfare do as much as possible.
In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished and had quite clearly been abused. The police took the dog, a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary which is known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.
Sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: To restore the dog to full health and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.
Jasmine, however, had other ideas. No one quite remembers how it came about but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.
Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them. But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits.
She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."
Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born.
The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits - and one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm and then went into the full foster-mum role.
Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.
"They are inseparable" says Geoff. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."
Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.
Several visitors have contacted us recently, after noticing a sickly or poorly cat. Whenever possible, one of our volunteers has gone to check out the situation. Sadly, by the time we get to the described location, the animal has often disappeared and even after several attempts to find it, we are not always lucky.
The temperatures are lower than last month but it is still very hot, if a street animal feels weak or is hurt in some way, the most important thing is that it has access to clean drinking water and is in a safe place. Not ideal, but without a refuge or shelter, we can usually only offer on-site attention, but will monitor the animal's progress providing any required first aid. Once recovered, the animal's location will be noted to be included in the winter feeding programme.
Sometimes though, as you already know, some of the street animals tended to by Symi Animal Welfare, do end up in loving homes - Boogie, Delphi, Tasha, Snowy, Betty, Kookie, Lola, Leon, Eric, Dave, Elpida... The list is endless. But, however much we all love animals, we can't possibly bring them all home!
A Benefit evening to raise awareness for Symi Animal Welfare was held at the Olive Tree on 23 August. It was a fantastic event, supported by visitors and residents alike. The SAW team were on hand to talk about our work, answer questions and even show photographs of rescue animals to curious young children! Samantha Marais provided the sweet-sounding folk music, Tina and Jenine served up delicious food so a good time was had by all. The raffle was won by Dawn Sproson ( a framed, original photo by Neil from Symi Dream) entrance wine supplied by the Olive Tree.
The final total received from the Benefit was 205euro + donations put into the collection box and still to be counted. We would again like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of the evening and also those attending.
With the continuing high temperatures and humidity, we are all 'suffering' on Symi. Please, please, please, don't forget that our animal friends can get over-heated and so very thirsty in these conditions. If you have a shady spot on your terrace or on the road outside your house, there will probably be at least one cat trying to keep as cool as possible! Not quite so hungry in this weather, a drink of fresh water from a clean container will always be most welcome (placed somewhere safe, away from any passing cars or bikes though please!)
Sadly, poor Bonnie passed away a short time ago. Her trip over to the vet on Rhodes proved unsuccessful, she was so sick and the medication simply improved the last couple of weeks of her life, it couldn't save her. After a variety of owners and some time surviving on the streets, Bonnie did eventually find someone who cared enough to give her the home she desperately wanted and, for a number of years too.
The current hot weather is a difficult time for the animals, especially the young kittens. If you are visiting, as mentioned in previous reports, please put down fresh water in a safe place for them to drink. - a thirsty animal will smell such a treat from far away! However, please do not move any small kitten and take to a watering-place, this could disturb the mother's routine and she may not be able to find it again?
On this subject, we would like to mention Steve and Kerry from Guernsey, who are here on holiday at the moment. Genuine animal-lovers, every day they feed so many street cats, in fact the word has spread through the cat-community and more are turning up for a Kerry-feast each morning. They are so interested in our work here on the island and have commented on how well the animals appear over-all. Of course, we have mentioned that if ever they fancy relocating to Symi how welcome they would be as part of our small team of volunteers. Yammas Steve and Kerry!!
We also wish to thank the visitors so far this season who have given donations and the ones who have sought us out to introduce themselves.
Suzan Rashid has taken over from Gill Bennett, who returned to the UK a few months ago. Her husband is a fisherman but also has a farm up in the mountains. Her knowledge, understanding and love of all animals will be a great bonus to our team
The street cats spotted basking in the May sunshine, are all now seeking a shaded place to keep out of the extreme June temperatures. The young kittens and high-spirited dogs who usually play around the Harbour and in the Village, can now only be found hidden somewhere cool. The rescue dogs with thick coats have all been given a haircut... mmm, summer has truly arrived! If you are staying on Symi during these next few hot months, can we ask that you put out a container of clean water, in a safe and shaded location, for our thirsty animal friends please?
A well-known rescue dog recently became very sick, for no apparent reason. A course of antibiotics didn't appear to be helping and a visit to a vet on Rhodes was essential. At this time of the year, it is very difficult to take time out of work or from a business, but a small group of Symi Animal Welfare supporters arranged everything.
Yesterday, the dog was taken over to Rhodes where a vet did a series of tests to diagnose the condition and once established, gave the necessary medication. It became clear that the visit to the vet had indeed been a life-saver.
I have just spoken to the owner who was happy to report that the dog is a little brighter today and the responsibility for administering the medication is being shared amongst a few volunteers to ensure that she recovers soon.
Fantastic teamwork yet again by our dedicated supporters.