Three rescue dogs from a shelter in Cyprus will start their new lives on Scilly this weekend.
CYPRUS RESCUE DOGS FIND FOREVER HOMES ON SCILLY
The trio bring the total number of dogs adopted by islanders from the Paphiakos shelter in Paphos to 13 in the last year.
The new arrivals – belonging to Tina and John Hutchins and Carly Player from St Mary’s and Richard Kearsley from Bryher – flew into Heathrow Airport last night and are being driven to Penzance to meet their owners.
The rehoming scheme is organised by Hertfordshire-based Helen McGarry, who describes helping the dogs of Cyprus as a "lifelong ambition". She visits the busy shelter with her family during their yearly trips to Paphos and, with the help of the staff, identify dogs they feel are particularly in need and would be suitable for rehoming in the UK. Due to the huge number of stray animals in Cyprus, being adopted abroad is often their only chance of finding a ‘forever home’.
If a new owner is found, arrangements are made for the dogs to fly to the UK after having the required health checks and vaccinations. Onward travel is also organised, often meaning Helen driving several hours across country to deliver the animals in person.
Alison King from St Mary's rehomed Paphiakos dog Ki earlier this year. She said: "People ask me why I’m not rescuing from the UK. I have done so in the past but when I tried again two years ago I contacted every rescue centre I could and I was always blocked because I couldn't travel to visit the dog numerous times to make a choice.
"Even if I could go across and choose a dog, they then want to socialise it with your own dogs and cats and children, which means several mainland visits. While I respect the system it doesn't really work for us on Scilly."
With the McGarry system, potential adopters are asked to fill in a form with details of their lifestyle, as well as provide photos of the dog’s living space and surrounding area. After phone calls and emails, Helen makes sure that the dog and owner are a good match.
Alison added: "I've met all the Cyprus dogs who've come here and they are all lovely. In the shelter, they all play together in the yard and they sleep together rather than being in individual pens, so they're very well socialised with other dogs. They’re also tested with the cats in the shelter and have contact with children too.
"They're so eager to please. They just respond to love basically."
Rachael Smalley from St Mary's has adopted three Cyprus poodles from Paphiakos in addition to the one she already had from the UK. She did not intend to have four dogs but took pity when Helen contacted her about 5-year-old Molly, whose British owners returned to the UK and left their five dogs at the shelter.
She said: “The poor girl had been rehomed in Cornwall but it didn't work out as the owner had a change in circumstances. I tried to help find someone else but we struggled and I couldn't bear the thought of Molly going to a UK shelter so I offered to foster with a view to keep her.
“Although it's hard work I love them all to bits. They are great with children and all get on well. Helen was amazing at helping and does this all off her own back. I’m so pleased there are other dogs over here too. If we can save a rescue dog from anywhere it's a blessing for us all as they bring so much joy.”
Rachael Mary adopted Lena, then 18 months old, in May. "She's great with my granddaughter and with my two rescue cats. She's very gentle and friendly and clean. I really think rescued dogs know and respond to love and a home. I think Lena has rescued me every bit as much as I've rescued her!
"It’s the best decision I've made in a good while.”
Paphiakos shelter has over 1,200 rescued animals, with around 400 dogs in addition to cats, donkeys, goats and rabbits. Helen and her helpers (husband James, daughter Beren and son Alec, along with friend Alice Carnell) have organised the rehoming of 91 dogs so far this year, with the hope that eight more will follow before December.
More than 200,000 dogs are abandoned each year in Cyprus. Some are given up by expats moving back to the UK, while others are deemed too old or just unwanted after owners tire of them. They are often abandoned in bin bags or in some cases thrown from a moving vehicle.
(Left) Helen’s daughter saying goodbye to Ki after the long drive to Land’s End Airport (Right) - Paolo on the day he arrived at the shelter. He will start a new life on Scilly this weekend
Dee Williams’s Paphiakos dogs Hooch and Sundae
Lena on Scilly