The village of Mavropigi in the region of Western Macedonia may have been abandoned by its residents several years ago to make way for a new lignite quarry, but the number of strays roaming its streets keeps growing.
The problem started when a number of the departing locals left their pets behind. It was compounded by villagers from the surrounding area who dumped their unwanted animals – mostly dogs – in the ghost town.
“The result is that there is a large number of dogs in Mavropigi. Around 30 can usually be found in the main square and there are many more that have formed packs in other parts of the village, while inevitably there are always more puppies, many of which die of diseases such as typhus,” says Triantafyllia Petrou, estimating that there are at least 70 stray dogs in the village.
Petrou is an animal lover who lives around 15 kilometers away in Ptolemaida and together with another volunteer has taken on the daunting task of trying to provide some assistance to the neglected denizens of Mavropigi, making weekly visits to provide them with food and fresh water.
She recently got a helping hand from a group called Animal Action to spay and neuter as many dogs as possible in order to start containing the population. “Besides all of the other risks they face, the noise of the ongoing demolitions of buildings is frightening the animals and they are running away, getting lost,” says the group’s campaign manager, Serafina Avramidou.
Petrou believes that it would be possible to build a shelter, especially for the puppies, as finding families to adopt them will be almost impossible in an area that, as she says, “is not known for loving animals.”
The fact that so many people dump their pets in Mavropigi is evidence enough of this callous mentality. “They believe that no one will every find them there,” says Avramidou.
Animal Action runs campaigns in many parts of Greece facing similar problems. “Twice a year we go to Astypalaia, which has a huge stray cat problem and no vet, as well as to Kalambaka and Litohoro, which also have too many stray dogs,” Avramidou explains.