COMMUNITY

Inroads being made in Greek Sheepdog breeding program

VASSILIKI CHRYSOSTOMIDOU

TAGS: Environment, Initiative

A program for breeding and protecting the Greek Sheepdog by the Arcturos wildlife and nature conservation society has been a resounding success, and, according to its press secretary, Panos Stefanou, “there are farmers who will wait for more than two years to get a puppy.”

“It’s an ideal dog for protecting the flock,” says Stefanou. “It brings together all those features that make it suitable both for the weather conditions in Greece and the needs of Greek farmers, and can endure low temperatures for hours thanks to its double coat. The Greek Sheepdog is smart and brawny, and it is not afraid to put up a fight with a wolf or a bear. It sees the flock as a ‘family’ it has to protect, never leaving it exposed.”

Stefanou explains that conservation is not the organization’s only objective in this program. “We are not an animal welfare organization or a breeding kennel. We want to eliminate the causes of conflict between man and wildlife. Through these dogs, we provide farmers with a ‘shield’ that helps protect them from suffering losses from wolf attacks,” he says.

Melina Avgerinou, who is head of the program for the Greek Sheepdog, explains that the initiative began in 1998 in parallel to the program for the protection of wolves.

“We collected puppies that were representative of the breed, which was at risk of extinction,” she says.

“We started the Breeding and Conservation Center for the Greek Sheepdog in Agrapidia in Florina and in the years since it was established, it has supplied more than 1,000 puppies, mainly to farmers in mountainous areas, making sure each dog does not give birth more than three times in its lifetime.”

Avgerinou says that farmers have to pay only a nominal fee for the puppies, which corresponds to vaccines in the first three months and the identification chip.

“Today, we maintain a register of the population and of births. Farmers sign a loan contract, which means that the dog remains with Arcturos,” she explains.

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