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Retired police inspector helps abandoned dogs

Posted onPosted on 13th Nov

A retired Nottinghamshire Police inspector has swapped policing for rescuing and caring for sick and abandoned dogs in Crete, Greece.

The rescue centre, named George Stray Dogs, is home to hundreds of stray, beaten and abused dogs that have been rescued by island resident George Orfanidis who has devoted his life and heart to caring for the neglected animals over the last 20 years.

George has more than 100 dogs at his shelter and feeds a further 50 stray dogs and cats that live on the streets. Every day, he does a 43-mile round trip to his two shelter sites to take care of them. There is no mains water supply or electricity at the shelters, so he takes barrels of water and food.

Inspector Samantha Wilson, who retired in September, has always loved dogs. She decided to fly out after seeing the work George did on social media, in addition to looking for something to do following her retirement.

She said: “I worked for the force for 30 years and joined as a police constable in 1990. After six years I became an operational response inspector, where I remained for 24 years. In 2018, I became a county people inspector where I worked closely with HR and placed new and existing officers across our bases in Nottinghamshire and made sure each area had enough staff.

“I love dogs. I have three and over the years I’ve rescued a few. I’d never considered working in the dog’s section at the force. It was not on the radar for me as the relationship you build with a working dog is different to having one as part of the family.

“I’d been following and donating to another Greek dog shelter for years and it was through them I heard about George. I decided to volunteer because my role saw me working all hours god sends and I knew I needed a new challenge.

“Going to Crete and seeing how ill-treated these animals are really opened my eyes. The conditions I have seen some of the animals arrive in is appalling and we also go out to rescue animals and bring them to safety.

“Animal welfare is not a priority in Greece, there are currently more than eight million strays and people openly harm them. You face a lot of hostility from people when you go to rescue animals. The animals are also terrified because of how they’ve been treated by humans, mostly men, so to gain their trust is a task.”

Sam’s daily responsibilities included feeding the cats and dogs and escorting sick animals to the vets, in addition to updating the Facebook page with progress of the sick animals and new arrivals to the shelter.

“Almost every day we went to the vets with critically ill animals,” said Sam.

“It’s very costly to treat them. When I was there I helped to take care of a dog called Aris. Aris required a blood transfusion as his organs were failing, and another dog, Shadow, who was rescued by George, donated the blood.

“Despite our best efforts, Aris had to be put to sleep. I cuddled him as he died. It was heart-breaking.”

After spending just under a month helping George, Sam has returned home to Nottinghamshire, but plans to return later in November.

She said: “Although I was only there for a month I have developed a good friendship with George. I went to Greece with three dogs at home, I’ve come home with 100 in my heart.

“George works incredibly hard and it was a pleasure to help him. I intend on travelling there regularly to help George and also spend time at home with my family. With my English I will also continue to help with updating the social media, as George relies heavily on donations which come from Western Europe, where the majority speak English and George only speaks Greek. He’s also helping me improve my Greek.

“Greece is still in a recession after 15 years and relies a lot on tourism, which has been impacted heavily due to Coronavirus, so now more than ever vital funds are needed.”

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