People in Greece like to hunt and many of them own their own hunting dogs, like Duke, the English Setter. His breed in renowned for temperament, and are affectionate, playful, intelligent, gentle, companionable, energetic, and people-oriented. They are also hard-working. It's that last aspect that draws the hunters to own one.
Unfortunately for the dogs, when the owner gets tired of hunting or grows too old to enjoy the sport, there is no more need for the faithful dog. That's when the horror begins.
Duke is no different than any other hunting dog in Greece. When he became a burden instead of a "living tool," his owner chained him up and simply quit feeding him. Without food and water, his life would have been over very soon.
He weighed less than 20 pounds when he was found by ZEIL, an organization that rescues abused and abandoned animals. The English Setter when full grown should weigh 45 to 80 pounds. The chain holding him was so heavy he could hardly lift his head.
The friendly people from ZEIL see this same story over and over. Hunting dogs that are no longer being used are often abandoned on a mountain top, tied to a tree and left to die. They are starved, shot, hung, or drowned so that their owners no longer have to take care of them. But ZEIL decided that this wouldn't be the way Duke's story would end.
They took him to the vet, where he was given a health exam and treated for heartworms. Then they started to take care of him the way his owner should have.
For the first time in his life, he was able to run free without having to retrieve a bird for a hunter. He was fed properly and given plenty of affection.
Duke's new humans played with him and loved him and gave him a new lease on life. The sweet natured dog began to regain his natural beauty and showed his gratitude by returning the affection shown to him.
He was so very happy with his newfound friends! But that wasn't the end, either.
When Duke was healthy enough, ZEIL looked for permanent home for him. All the way from Denmark, his new family came to Athens to pick him up and take him to his forever home.
Duke was renamed Charlie and went to live with his new humans and two other canine companions. Now Charlie can do the things normal dogs do, like lying in the grass or rolling around in it whenever he feels like it. He gets regular, nutritious meals and tons of affection. And you know what his family demands in return? Absolutely nothing. Charlie is so grateful to have a new life that he lathers them with love every chance he gets. And that's how Charlie's life goes one.
The fate of hunting dogs in Greece is grim. When someone reports them, the Greek Animal Welfare does step in, but the practice of neglecting or abusing dogs is so common that few people even notice their plight. Please share this story with your friends, posting it on all your social media sites. Perhaps animal lovers from around the world can make enough noise to change the situation for dogs in Greece. Will you do your part?