Milos Friends of the animals was started in 1987. The main aim of the group is to help stray animals in Milos who still suffer. Whilst much press is given to the more exotic animals that inhabit this area such as dolphins, monk seals, wild goats and sea turtles, these more everyday animals are not given much recognition.
We became interested in caring for the stray cats of Milos in 1986 when we saw the poor state of health the strays were in and the appalling way they we treated when the community considered the cats were too numerous and allowed poison to be put down to combat the growing numbers of felines.
We approached Hellenic Animal Welfare in Athens to simply complain about the treatment of the cats after a visit to the police station in Milos where we told there was no law against the poisoning of street cats. Hellenic Animal Welfare said differently and cited a newly introduced law protecting street animals. They also suggested we became their 'agents' against animal cruelty in Milos.
We willingly agreed and within a year had our first visit from their vets to start a sterilization program on the island. The first veterinary visits were very small efforts compared to the sixty to eighty plus cats we do in a three day visit by vets now. Then, if we managed to sterilize twenty in three days we thought we had achieved a great success. As the years went on we became more adept at catching wild cats and making the veterinary visits more efficient. With the help of specific donations from major charities we purchased the right traps and squeeze and hospital cages.
We now have all the correct equipment to make a three or four day visit by veterinarians an efficient exercise. We even have a set of surgical instruments in case a vet appears who may be on holiday and offers to help, which happens occasionally. Naturally on organized visits instruments and mobile sterilizers come with the team from Greek Animal Welfare Fund.
The single most important thing that we can do to save cats and dogs from all the suffering and death that their overpopulation causes is to spay and neuter them. Spaying and neutering are routine, affordable surgeries that can prevent thousands of animals from being born, only to suffer and struggle to survive on the streets, be abused by cruel or neglectful people, or be euthanized in animal shelters for lack of a loving home.
Spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens!
Sterilized animals live longer, happier lives. Spaying eliminates the stress and discomfort that females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males far less likely to roam or fight, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Altered animals are less likely to contract deadly, contagious diseases, such as feline AIDS and feline leukemia, that are spread through bodily fluids.
Many people adopt stray cats and as long as the cat is willing to be caught there is good chance that it will take to living alongside us quite happily. Many feral cats are difficult to catch and should be left alone, if the cat comes willingly to be fed and is happy to let you fuss and stroke it then there is a chance it will become domesticated quite easily and could be a good pet for the family. It will probably not take to living inside a house for quite a time and prefer the independence of your garden whilst enjoying the comforts of your company and regular food – and water.
A dog really depends wholly on humans for a home and there is always a stray that wants and appreciates a good home. Remember, a dog is for life not just for a few months which is probably how many stray dogs start their lives, discarded from a home that no longer wants them. We have a strict code if we are involved in adoptions and that is first to be sure that the home is right for the dog and of course the dog is right for the home. A huge dog in a small apartment is not practical unless it gets long walks daily. No dog should be left alone for days, it is cruel particularly if they are chained and left without food for long periods. They, like many cats are sociable animals and like regular company of we humans.
So before you adopt either feline or canine think about the kind of life you are going to give it and plan to keep your new pet for years not months. Both also need regular treatment for worms and other small animals that make their homes in the fur of our four legged friends.
Milos Friends Of The Animals has had the support of the Fondation Brigitte Bardot which is based in France and works throughout the world to promote animal rights and to make a better life for animals that live freely without human intervention and support. The help the fondation has given Milos is to sterilize stray cats and dogs.
Over our history we have sterilized nearly three thousand street cats and about one hundred dogs. Along with the help of Fondation Brigitte Bardot veterinary surgeons from Greek Animal Welfare Fund have performed the operations.
Up until five years ago we used to pay for vets to come from Worldwide Veterinary. The Hellenic Animal Welfare Society in Athens first visited to help our strays over 25 years ago. Many street animals went on the have a happier and longer life because of this. During this time The Violet Davies Animal Nursing Home also supported us along with The Jeanne Marchig Fund. Then Greek Animal Welfare Fund (Animal Action) made visits for stray animals and an equine programme for donkeys and mules. Their vets were sponsored by Brigitte Bardot Foundation. In recent years we thank the Greek Cat Society (U.K.) for pharmacy donated and Brigitte Bardot Foundation in France.
To offer to come and catch cats – we will teach you how, it is not as easy as you might think as they are cunning creatures who sense when things are not right as any wild animal does. With patience and our equipment of humane traps the job is easier – but not easy as we have just said.
We feed our colonies generally only in the winter and then only twice a week at most. Dried commercial cat food does need water to be available also. This way the colony has to look after itself by hunting rodents etc. We say in the winter because in tourist areas there is more food waste that the cats can scavenge from. Scavenging is not the nicest thing but until someone comes up with a way to completely deal with unsealed waste bins the cats will gather around it to sample what we all throw away in left over food.