The reasons behind the project:
It is a fact that the “problem” of stray dogs in Greece – which was of course created not by the dogs, but by us, humans – has reached humongous proportions. We quote the word problem as the dogs themselves are not a problem but their everyday living conditions is. This gets worse, since it is coupled by our ignorance of how to deal with them or at least not scare them and bring them on the defensive. Think about it: Stray dogs are factually a part of our everyday life, so close to us and yet, so far, weak, unwanted, famished, thirsty and without a family. On top of that we humans, with all our inappropriate or ignorant behaviors, get to scare them a lot. The oxymoron here is that dogs are social beings by nature, just like us, and have “tagged along” mankind as true and precious companions for thousands of years.
There are many animal welfare societies in our country and they all try their best, rescuing, healing, spaying/neutering and rehoming many, but not enough of the stray dogs. However, we felt that “something” is missing. So maybe, the solution to the “problem” could be a more elaborate effort, with a future perspective and focusing on education, as today’s harsh reality remains the same for many-many years now and is best described by:
And worse, the media is always there to report on “aggressive” dogs without any additional information, comments, or any kind of research as to why.
Acknowledging today’s reality, that is, that stray, semi-owned or under-socialized dogs are out there, that there are also too many of them and that most of us, citizens, do not know how to behave towards them, SAPT Hellas implements the “Informative Campaign” Project in order to reverse today’s , but even more importantly, tomorrow’s situation.
The aim of the project is to convey to children basic knowledge generally lacking from the Greek family. We visit, absolutely free of charge*, schools in an effort to teach children not to repeat their predecessors’ practices of abandonment or neglect, due to which there are so many stray dogs today. We visit kindergartens, pre-schools, elementary and senior schools and “pass on” to children important messages such as, what is meant by responsible ownership (=guardianship), what a dog needs, how people can get to know and pet a dog (stray or owned), what to watch out for if the dog appears to have a skin disease, how not to provoke dogs and bring them on the defensive, that as guardians of a dog we absolutely have a duty to spay our female dog, how, when taking our dog for a walk to collect its pooh, etc. The whole oral part of our presentation (approx. 15-20 minutes) can be found step-by-step in the informational leaflet that we distribute to all participating children.
And then, it is time for the “key”, interactive part of our visit: the time for kids to experience what we talked about earlier and actually get to know and pet our team’s dogs. No more talking and teaching, just a well-guided hands-on practice. Children are asked to mimic our behavior in calling out to a dog, petting, and generally act properly and dog-friendly around a dog or many dogs. While sitting next to us and our dogs, children also have the opportunity to ask the experienced team’s members more questions, whether those have to do with stray dogs or their own dog. Please visit our Informative Campaign’s Photo Gallery to see pictures and comments from all our school visits since 2005.
The children’s reactions
It is true, we come across many children who are afraid to come closer and even more children that “know” how to get to know a dog, and actually try to exhibit this conduct, although it is totally inappropriate. We never push children belonging in the first category to come closer. We let them, in time, decide to mimic the behavior of their classmates – and this “team spirit” mentality is what happens in the end, most of the times. As for the children belonging in the second category, namely the ones that “know” we guide them towards the right behavior, always explaining the reasons why.
It is very difficult to describe the picture and reactions of the children in the schools we visit. We see a “I-now-know-how-to-get-to-know-a-dog” glow in their faces, a touch with nature and our basic instincts, the joy of learning while having a good time.
It is a major challenge to the members of our team to teach children that all dogs will bite if they are directly or indirectly provoked and to reverse the idea of the “killer” or “aggressive” dog that is so wide-spread in our country, no further questions asked. We believe that not only it is wiser but also our duty to treat dogs in the right way rather than expect them to exhibit their best manners when they spend most of their life in a balcony or garden alone, or in the case of stray dogs, famished, thirsty, sick and/or abused by us humans.
If you are a school representative interested in SAPT Hellas team visiting your school’s premises, please fill-in our contact form. We can of course make presentations in English and have our leaflet translated for such occasions. Also, please note that the Ministry of Education has granted SAPT Hellas with the following consecutively issued permits to conduct school visits:
School Year 2007 Protocol No 85212/G7 30-7-2007 – in Greek
School Year 2008-2009: Protocol No 131907/G7 14-10-08 – in Greek
School Year 2009-2010, Protocol No 115107/G7 29/09/2009 – in Greek
School Year 2010-2011, Protocol No 111258/G7 – 21/09/2010 – in Greek
School Year 2012-2013, Protocol No 60722 – 30-05-2012 – in Greek, also approving our Informative Campaign to the schools of the island of Ithaki, scheduled for September 2012).- in Greek
School Year 2013-2014, Protocol No. 131536/G7-18-09-2013 – in Greek, also approving our Informative Campaign to the schools of Heraklion, Crete).- in Greek and another one Protocol No. 168274/Γ7-07-11-2013 for the Prefecture of Pella, in December 2013
School Year 2016-2017, Protocol No. Φ13.1/142083/Δ2 for the whole of Greece.
School Year 2017-2018, Protocol No. Φ13.1/167167/Δ2 for the whole of Greece
School Year 2018-2019, Protocol No. Φ2.1/ 160842/Δ7 for the whole of Greece
School Year 2019-2020, Protocol No. Φ.2.1/ΕΠ/125642/Δ7 for the whole of Greece
*IMPORTANT NOTE: While talking with representatives of education or social entities we realized that, although it is mentioned everywhere that our visits to schools or institutions are voluntary, it is not clear that they are completely free of charge. We therefore wish to underline that there is no price whatsoever involved for those who invite us, either in the form of a fee or – in the case of visits within Attica – in the form of any other costs, which are undertaken in their entirety by the volunteers of SAPT Hellas or solely by SAPT Hellas. Transportation and F&B expenses may be incurred, again, not by schools, but instead other entities inviting SAPT Hellas to deliver presentations and workshops outside Attica (e.g. Animal Welfare Societies, Municipalities or Associations)