Dentist is best friend to 200 dogs: Animal lover gives up his job to гeѕсᴜe pets left starving in the scorching sun after сгіѕіѕ-һіt Greeks аЬапdoпed them

Dentist is best friend to 200 dogs: Animal lover gives up his job to гeѕсᴜe pets left starving in the scorching sun after сгіѕіѕ-һіt Greeks аЬапdoпed them

As the financial crisis’ grip on Greece gets ever tighter, increasing numbers of people are being forced to dump as many expenditures as possible – and for many people that means their dogs.

Before it struck, these pooches were beloved family pets. Now they are left abandoned, thrown out like rubbish and left to starve.

But one man, a former dentist, has begun picking up the pieces, and has single-handedly saved more than 200 dogs.

 

Starving: This emaciated dog has been rescued by Theoklitos Proestakis and brought to his shelter in Crete

Neglected: Pet owners are struggling to cover the costs of keeping their dogs and are abandoning them

Abandoned: This skinny hound and puppies are pictured walking among the rubble on a rubbish dump in Crete

 

Theoklitos Proestakis – known in the community as Takis – gave up almost everything he had to launch his shelter after being stunned by the animal suffering he witnessed in his town, Lerapetra, in the south of Crete.

 

‘I am absolutely alone here at the shelter,’ Takis, 44, told MailOnline. ‘I have no money, I had to sell my car, I had to sell my caravan, I have nothing. I had to borrow money.

‘I was ready to sell it a few months ago, because I couldn’t see how I could carry on.’

Takis has been running the shelter, which has become a safe haven for dogs from across his region, for more than three years and in that time he has rehomed more than 40 dogs.

‘One day I went to the rubbish dump and I saw horrible and crazy things there,’ he continued, explaining why he set up the centre.

‘There were so many dogs, and they had broken legs, they were starving, they were so skinny and so sick and dying. It horrified me.

 

In pain: Fellnase was skinned alive before being dumped on a rubbish dump in the scorching summer sun

Road to recovery: Pictures of Fellnase’s horrific injuries, which are now healing, have prompted people to donate funds to Takis’ shelter

Dumped: It is because of the sky-high costs for feeding and treating a dog that so many people are being forced to leave their pets on the streets

‘I just wanted to help them. So I started looking after them, taking them food and water and I was so happy when I saw they started to get stronger.

‘But the people who live in the neighbourhood started to get really angry with me, and telling me they were going to kill the dogs because they were becoming a nuisance.

‘So I started the shelter as somewhere safe where I could keep them.’

Now, the shelter has expanded to cover an area of 5,200 square-metres, with so many dogs that it costs Takis €1,300 every month just to feed them all, and a further €700 a month for vets bills.

Vets in Greece can’t afford to do anything for free, according to Takis, and even though he gets discounted rates it still costs €150 to neuter a female dog.

Over the three years he has paid, from his own pocket, to neuter some 50 or 60 dogs.

 

Theoklitos Proestakis (pictured) – known in the community as Takis – gave up almost everything he had to launch his shelter

Expensive: There are so many dogs at the shelter that it costs €1,300 every month just to feed them all

Rescued: Takis launched his shelter after being stunned by the animal suffering he witnessed in his town

All the money comes from donations. Some 98 per cent of the donations come from outside Greece, mostly from Europe and the United States.

He says local authorities are unable and unwilling to help.

It is because of the sky-high costs for feeding and treating a dog that so many people are being forced to leave their pets on the streets to fend for themselves.

Briton Lesley Jackson, who has been living in Crete for more than nine years, has seven dogs of her own and is shocked by the extent of the animal problem, which she says has become noticeably worse since the crisis took hold.

‘I believe that the amount of dogs being abandoned now is directly related to the financial crisis,’ Lesley, 50, told MailOnline.

‘No one has one dog here, everyone has about five or six. There are a few reasons for why so many end up thrown out like rubbish. There isn’t a culture of neutering dogs here, so lots of people end up with puppies that they don’t want and can’t look after.

 

Hopeful: Some 98 per cent of the donations to the shelter come from outside Greece, mostly from Europe and the United States

Playful: It’s not just beloved family pets that have been abandoned – some dogs have been thrown out of cars and others tied to fences and left to starve

 

Generous: Over the three years, Takis has paid, from his own pocket, to neuter some 50 or 60 dogs

 

Endless: Each day, Takis finds another abandoned dog, explaining: ‘It’s hopeless, but it’s better than nothing’

‘On the other hand vets bills cost more than most people’s monthly rent so they just can’t afford to treat their animals, and think it’s easier to get rid of them.’

Lesley, originally from London, visited Takis’ shelter and was stunned by the quality of the work he’s doing there.

‘He works seven days a week and then goes home from the shelter and immediately starts posting photos of dogs online and trying to find them homes.

‘But there’s not a day that passes that he doesn’t find another dog abandoned.

‘It’s hopeless, but it’s better than nothing.’

It isn’t just the beloved pets of poverty-stricken families that Takis has taken it and saved. Many have been brutally beaten, starved and mistreated by their owners before being left to die.

 

Care: Takis is said to work seven days a week and continues to help the dogs by posting pictures online when he gets home

 

Help: The shelter has expanded to cover an area of 5,200 square-metres, with so many dogs that it costs Takis €1,300 every month just to feed them all, and a further €700 a month for vets bills

Work: Takis has been running the shelter, which has become a safe haven for dogs from across his region, for more than three years

Some are thrown out of cars, and others tied to fences and left to starve, and in one horrific case the animal had been skinned alive before being abandoned in the burning summer heat.

It was this unfortunate creature, named Fellnase, that signalled a turning point for Takis and his shelter.

‘Since I put the photos up online of the dog and the work that I had done to heal her, people have seen the pictures and want to help,’ he said. ‘I still have my shelter, and now I have hope.’

Just last week Takis was able to buy another car with money that had been donated to a fundraising site set up to save the shelter, so now he can take his dogs to the vet and to the airport if they have been rehomed abroad.

‘This is my life,’ he added. ‘It’s difficult but I love it. I work so hard here but when I see the dogs happy and enjoying themselves and learning to trust people again then it’s all worth it.’

 

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