The founder and Director of Greek Animal Rescue, Vesna Jones, aged 60, passed away on May 15th 2014.
After a short spell in hospital, Vesna sadly lost her fight against an illness she had suffered with for many years.
Below, Vesna describes in her own words what motivated her to start Greek Animal Rescue.
It all began with a holiday in Greece in 1987 – the first proper holiday in 15 years for my husband Paul and myself and one we both very much looked forward to. We drove to Greece and intended travelling around for one month before returning home, but as we crossed the border, we encountered the first stray, not realising at the time that he was just one out of hundreds we were to see during our so called holiday.We spent ten days of our holiday on Crete and that’s where we saw appalling neglect of animals … dozens of hungry stray dogs and cats begging for scraps, ‘guard dogs’ chained to rusty oil drums or to a tree (more often than not there was nothing for them to ‘guard’), not to mention numerous dead dogs and cats lying by the roadside, donkeys and mules left tied in barren fields with no food or water in sight, often hobbled and barely able to move … We were horrified by all the terrible sights, but what was worse, we were unable to help the poor animals, or at least we didn’t know how we could help them – nobody seemed interested to listen to our complaints and we were even laughed at.This is something I can’t understand! What is the point of bringing into this world even more dogs and cats, when their chances of ever being re-homed were virtually nil and left on the streets, most of them perish within a few months, if not weeks, either through disease, starvation, deliberate poisoning or under the wheels of the cars. The few decent shelters there are in Greece, should be there to help and to provide a sanctuary for the neediest cases – the starved, sick or injured animals, but unfortunately they also become a dumping ground for unwanted litters of puppies and kittens and for older dogs, who have been replaced by ‘younger models’. Greece is a beautiful country and there is no doubt many of the islands are unique in their structure like, for example, Santorini, but when I visited the island in 1989, the picturesque scenery is not what I noticed first – it was the poor ‘beasts of burden’ – donkeys and mules, struggling up the steep winding steps with either the tourists or their luggage on their backs, some were frothing at the mouth, clearly exhausted … how pitiful they looked! Yes, the tourists also need ‘educating’!!
Our fund-raising to help animals in Greece began as soon as we returned home from that fateful holiday in 1987 and a few months later, we also set the wheels in motion to apply for a charity status, which we finally obtained in October 1989. Thanks to several articles in newspapers and magazines, we ‘spread the word’ about the plight of animals in Greece and our membership gradually grew. GAR Newsletters feature many rescue stories and other articles, which ‘show’ people where their kind donations are going.
Every year we receive dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from people who have returned from their holiday in Greece, distressed and unable to erase the sad memories of hungry and sick strays, often witnessing deliberate cruelty being inflicted on them. Some decide to ‘adopt’ a stray dog or a cat they had befriended and we help them all we can (though not financially), since we have considerable experience with the ‘Pet Passports’ procedure. We have in fact re-homed in the UK many dogs and cats from Greece that we have helped to rescue, either through the shelters we support or in response to a call for help, often involving an animal which requires urgent surgery (leg amputation, removal of an eye etc).
Founder, Greek Animal Rescue