Three neglected and abandoned Cypriot dogs have been welcomed into their forever homes on the Isles of Scilly, bringing the total number to thirteen dogs rehomed from Paphiakos animal shelter in Paphos, Cyprus, this year.
Bon, a Spanish Bassett; Rufus (formerly Paolo), a Kokoni Spaniel pup; and Patrick, a black and tan terrier cross, arrived at their new homes on the 7th October thanks to the efforts of Helen McGarry of Rehoming Cyprus Dogs.
Bon was found dumped by the roadside before she was was collected by the shelter, but she's found her forever home on the tiny island of Bryher with owner Richard Kearsley. Rufus was left to starve but is safe now with new owners Tina and John Hutchins on St Mary's, and last but not least, Patrick was a severe case of neglect, living on a confined balcony with no contact. Luckily, he was rescued just in time and will now live with Carly Player, also on St Mary's.
Sadly, thousands of stray and abandoned dogs roam the streets of Cyprus and many are often poisoned. Despite being born and raised in London, Cypriot Helen McGarry has always kept her connection with Cyprus strong. "I have many family members there and have many wonderful memories but I also remember however, a grave many 'incidences' that involved the abuse and neglect of animals on the Island. Even as a small child I would stare in shock and disbelief of what I saw and felt the grief of not being able to do anything for them.
"I have always been an animal lover, and grew up with a sickening realisation that Cyprus was very backward in her approach to her animal welfare. There is no RSPCA equivalent. Poisoning is rife - and yet not legal - and a regular occurrence. Shooting and deliberate cruelty is in open view. To add to this burden, many dogs are sadly left behind by Ex-pats and British families."
Helen discovered Paphiakos after finding a sick kitten bitten by a snake, and were turned away by two vets. At the time, the shelter housed dog and cats but is now one of the largest sanctuary on the island, with over 1,200 animals, including horses, goats, donkey and rabbits, and approximately 400 dogs, with daily intakes exceeding the number of rehomed. For many of these dogs, their only hope will be to be rehomed abroad.
"It has only been in the last two years, that I have considered doing more. My husband James is totally to blame for this! After seeing a skinny tethered dog in the scorching heat one day and complaining about the lack of laws and animal welfare in Cyprus, he remarked,"so, If you can't save them all, you will not even try to save one?
"That was the bell that went off in my head."
Helen and her husband began rehoming dogs to close friends and word quickly spread. Helen visits the shelter with her family during their yearly visit to Paphos and with the help of shelter staff, try to identify suitable dogs for rehoming in the UK. Once the dogs have had all their required health checks and vaccinations, they are ready to travel. Helen also makes sure the owners and dogs are the 'perfect match' by carrying out home checks and organising onward travel when the dogs have arrived.
"For the Scilly dogs, James and I, or sometimes our daughter Beren with myself, will travel the 300 mile trip down with the dogs to either meet adopters at Penzance Quay or Lands End, so they can board their boat/flight to Scilly. Nothing is left to chance and contingency plans are always in place to ensure the dogs are safe and are not stranded on the mainland.
"I have had many a beautiful walk on Cornish beaches with dogs waiting to cross to Scilly and as exhausted and sleep deprived as we are, I can honestly say what you see in their eyes, when they see a beach for the first time, is truly moving and humbling."
As well as offering ongoing support for the adopters, they are also planning to host a Scilly reunion next year for all the dogs and adopters.
Some people will ask why rehome dogs from abroad, but for Helen, rescue has no borders. "I will help anyone anywhere, including an animal from any place. Secondly, adoptions can be difficult here. Dogs are not often allowed with young children and yet we have many cuddling up to toddlers that have flown from Cyprus. We assess each dog for the family interested and if not suitable, we will suggest an alternative dog, but we do not feel that a family should be denied a dog because of other dogs or children, if the dog in question is going to be a great addition to a family."
For more information about Rehoming Cyprus Dogs, see their Facebook page.