SOCIETY

Strays? Help brings together happy pets and owners

Cleianna Malamatina, founder of the Strays? Help nonprofit group, explains that the organization ?is a voluntary forwarding program for stray animals that are looking for a family to adopt them.?

Originally founded in 2007, Strays? Help was created with the intention of helping animal welfare groups and volunteers to find permanent homes for rescued animals in their care. In an interview with Kathimerini English Edition, Malamatina said that Strays? Help utilizes a variety of media, including magazines, newspapers and websites, to publish photographs of dogs and cats that need to be adopted. The goal is to get the animals as much exposure as possible in an effort to maximize their chances of finding a happy home.

While the goal of Strays? Help is to connect the animals with individuals who want to adopt, there is a concerted effort made by the program to determine the suitability of the environment where the pets will end up. Malamatina stressed that ?we have over 60 volunteers all over Greece that visit homes before someone adopts a pet. We have a questionnaire for each family and a pet is only adopted if the family and the home is suitable.? She also added that prospective adopters must ?agree with the microchipping and sterilization of the pet.?

Taking into consideration both the pets and the individuals who adopt them, Stays? Help has created two programs — Train a Stray and Groom a Stray — to make the process as successful as possible. Malamatina described Train a Stray as a program that ?offers one free positive reinforcement training lesson to every family that adopts a stray so that they can deal with any problems a puppy may have or just for fun and [gain the] best possible awareness of how to be a responsible owner.?

The second program, Groom a Stray, was established in recognition of the potential costs that are presented by being a pet owner, especially in light of the current economic crisis Greece is experiencing. Through a collaborative effort with Flora’s Pet Grooming Academy in Athens, it offers ?a discount for any pet that needs grooming, a bath or a haircut.?

Beyond helping find homes for cats and dogs, Strays? Help also tries to raise awareness about ways the public can help reduce the plight of stray animals. The organization suggests that while adoption of a stray is the best way to help, pet owners can also contribute to reducing the number of animals on the streets by neutering their pet, getting it microchipped, and by not buying animals from pet shops or puppy mills.

Those interested in adopting a pet or who want to finding out more about how they can help can visit www.strayshelp.gr or e-mail [email protected]