Are you jetting off abroad and leaving your furry friend behind?
I used to hate leaving Daisy and felt like I had dog withdrawal symptoms.
Worry not, because you can visit dogs abroad too and supporting shelters means so much to the volunteers.
I love Greece and a few years ago I went to Zante with my friend Vicky, my god-daughter Ella and her sister Lucy.
One day Lucy and I nipped to the snack bar on the beach and we heard crying and saw what looked like a large rabbit hutch in some bushes by the side of the beach.
In there was a mum and her puppies. She looked exhausted and her pups were tiny but naturally were squeaking and jumping all over her. It was heartbreaking and we wanted to do something.
We found Zante Strays on Facebook, an amazing charity that helps abandoned, abused and stray dogs. We were flying home that day, but we called and sent photos to the volunteers who went to help.
I’ve stayed in touch with them and they rehome around 1,000 dogs each year to the UK.
They help remarkable pups like Olaf who is now a PAT dog and Smee who needed vital heart surgery and one supporter, Jeff Dunkley has raised nearly £5000 to help build a new shelter.
A few years ago I went to Skiathos for my friend Claire’s wedding and she told us about a dog shelter you could visit, walk the dogs and drop of vital supplies.
We went and took cleaning products and food and went for a walk with two dogs. Now, every year, we find a dog shelter to visit.
I know if you’re on this website, you’d like to do the same. So I’ve rounded up shelters that I’ve visited myself with a little information on each one.
Jeff Dunkley and Jamie Contonis at Zante Strays
Zante Strays have a shelter in Laganas and help rehome hundreds of dogs every year. Around 400 come to the UK and many of them are adopted after people find stray dogs on holiday and fall in love with them.
Jamie Contonis and her team are so helpful. They keep the dog in their shelter then arrange for vaccinations, spaying and their pet passport and transport here.
It costs around £365 for the entire process. Jamie has said she would like holidaymakers to volunteer at the shelter, feeding and petting the dogs and cleaning kennels. They currently have around 100 dogs there.
“We are so busy and we know how much British holidaymakers love the dogs, they really are so wonderful and kind,” she says.
“If people can give a little of their time we are so grateful. We even have a bike people can borrow if they’re staying in Laganas and would like to use it as transport.”
Cleaning products, food and toys for the dogs are also welcome. Contact them ahead of your visit to find out which food they need and where to buy them.
Lucky the Labrador from Kos has a new life in the UK
We visited Kos this summer and contacted Kos Animal Rescue in Antimachia which is run by a woman called Rita and her husband from Newcastle.
Most of the kennels are new and when we visited there was around 50 dogs. By the end of summer, many are re homed to Germany and Holland as it’s around £600 to transport to the UK, but some people do adopt here like Lucky the Labrador above who has just arrived at his new home.
Rita said: “We can only exercise the dogs inside the shelter, but we’d be very grateful for people to visit and if they’d like to bring food for the dogs and cleaning products, that’s brilliant.
“Toys are nice too, but we prefer food to treats as the dogs are on a set diet and it really is better value for money to buy food.”
There’s a pet food shop next to Aldi by the airport and if you tell staff you’re visiting the shelter, they will point you to the right food - we paid 20 Euros for huge bag.
Adorable Lucy followed Neil and Allison home from Skiathos
Skiathos Dog Shelter is in Troulos, off the main road between Skiathos Town and Koukounaries and is so well run - like a tourist attraction - their slogan is ‘a stepping stone to a better home.’
You can visit the dogs and take them for walks on the paths around the shelter Monday to Saturday from 9am until 1pm. We took two of the larger dogs out when we visited, but they have pups of all shapes and sizes.
It’s very well supported by the ex pat community and bars. The Iguana Bar in Paraskeve has a quiz every Wednesday from 9.30pm in the summer to raise funds.
Like Zante Strays, they help people who find dogs bring them home, like Lucy the terrier who followed Alison and Neil Cain all through their holiday - you can read their story here Adorable orphaned dog finds home.
A spokesperson for the rescue said: “We are always in need of certain items like Drontal plus wormers as most of our dogs arrive at the shelter infested with worms so we need to use a strong wormer.
“Also Scalibor collars, puppy/small and medium collars, tough dog toys (not soft toys as they tend to get wet and ruined quickly), fleecy blankets, dog treats and Advantix.”
With Tommy, Hannah and Millie at Rhodes Animal Welfare
Rhodes Animal Welfare Society is in Tsairi, off the main road between Rhodes Town and Lindos and we visited last year. Volunteers currently have 400 dogs to care for and more in foster homes.
They’re appealing for tourists to come along to help walk the dogs and groom them and you can volunteer for the whole day if you wish.
Again, they ask for practical items like towels, medication and food. The shelter rehomes across Europe and as far as America.
It’s a good idea to call beforehand and find out if there is anything they need and the staff can advise which pet shop to go to for food.
Find out more on their Facebook page.
I’d love this post to be a resource to help people find ways to care for dogs abroad. Welfare laws in other countries are nothing like what we have here and they need our support.
If you go away and visit a shelter and would like it added to the list, please send me an e mail firstname.lastname@example.org titled Help Dogs On Holiday with where you visited and a photo ideally, and I can include it.