A dog with burned paws sleeps at a makeshift shelter following a wildfire north of Athens, in Athens, Sunday. [Reuters]
In an abandoned quarry in Athens, volunteers are treating hundreds of animals displaced or injured by wildfires that swept through suburbs north of the capital last week.
As the flames spread through woods and leafy residential areas on the city outskirts, thousands of people were told to evacuate their homes and many left without their pets, leaving animals depending on the kindness of strangers.
“We call on everyone who saved animals from fire-stricken areas to bring them here,” said Eleni Dede, founder of the Dogs’ Voice rescue group, which set up the pop-up shelter within hours.
So far, the site has hosted more than 200 animals – pets and strays – from across Attica, the broader region which includes Athens.
“There are animals with light burns, respiratory problems, animals that are exhausted, and we are trying to do our best,” she said, adding that animals with more serious burns were taken to hospital.
More than 500 wildfires broke out across Greece last week during a severe, week-long heatwave. In some parts of the country, including the Peloponnese, fires ravaged huge areas of forestland, killing many animals in their wake.
So far, the shelter has received more help than its organizers had anticipated, and they are hoping to reunite the animals with their owners or find them new homes soon.
“The outreach has been fantastic. We have more people than we can handle,” said Petros Ziogas, a Dogs’ Voice volunteer. “Our main goal is to end up without animals here,” he said.