Equine Team in Kalymnos, Kos, Rhodes, and Kasos
In May 2013 GAWF's Equine Team consisting of equine vet Kleopatra Triantafyllou and farrier Giannis Brastianos, had to get on 7 airplanes and 3 ships in order to visit four islands in a week and examine more than a hundred and twenty equines.
On the first day, Giannis and Kleo visited Kalymnos for the first time ever. The owners that invited them don’t have any help with their equines, since there is no trained professional on the island. Fortunately, the one vet that lives on the island was eager to follow the team around and learn how properly to care for equines, and so were the owners. The team examined and treated 42 equines, most of which were working horses. The most severe case was that of a 35-year horse that had a multiple carpal fracture. The team explained to the owner that the animal should be put down.
After Kalymnos, the team visited Kos where they saw 36 horses and donkeys. Unfortunately, there is no vet on the island, and as a result the animals faced all sorts of problems from stomach ulcers and skin allergies to cases of tendonitis for which our vet suggested the appropriate treatment. Kleo also treated a wounded eye. Giannis on the other hand, showed to the owners how to shoe an equine in case of hooves' imbalance. The animal that was used as the 'model' was immediately relieved! As expected, many owners are really looking forward to the next seminar GAWF is going to organize so they can add to their knowledge on the subject of shoeing.
The Equine Team also visited the donkeys that are used to carry tourists around. The owner of the donkeys had just started his business, and, as was to be expected, he was making a lot of mistakes but most of the animals were in good condition, and the owner was ecstatic to be able to get answers to his many questions regarding the care of his animals and how to correct problems. Kleo gave him Janet Eley’s book (‘How to take care of your donkey’), which we know will help him a lot.
The team's next stop was Rhodes. In Lindos, they examined the donkeys that are used to carry tourists up to the town's Acropolis. The team stayed there almost all day to make sure all the working donkeys were in good condition. Kleo was pleased to see that most of them were: correct bodyweight; well hydrated; no wounds, and a rota was in place to ensure that no animal was overworked and each had time to rest. The negative things that gave our team cause for concern were that a few donkeys had overgrown hooves and some of them were imbalanced. The issue of weight is delicate and needs to be handled with sensitivity but we did observe cases of some small donkeys being required to carry people that were too heavy for them. Our team is going to do whatever possible to make sure all the owners are doing the best for their donkeys.
Later that day, Giannis and Kleo went to Archaggelos to see the eight horses of the local race that stay in the village's shelter. Unfortunately, a lot of the horses faced quite dental problems (ramps, hooks, spikes), and some of them could not chew properly, resulting to extreme weight loss. Kleo, of course treated all of them. Giannis also had a heavy work load, consisting mostly of cases of mediolateral imbalances. The team returned to the hotel feeling tired but especially glad that they contribute to the preservation of the bread.
Kasos was the last stop for the Equine Team on this trip. It was the third time that the team had visited the island and this time 29 equines were examined, mostly donkeys and also 5 Shetland ponies. The team had to drive all around the island to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anybody. Especially for the ponies, there is a high percentage of incest between them, resulting in health issues, so a lot of work had to be done. Kleo, in addition to taking care of the usual dental cases, also had to cut 4 overgrown teeth of two donkeys and a horse, and treat a pony that was suffering from an infection of the root of a tooth.
Also they treated a head injury caused by an ill-fitting and broken head collar, carrying out an improvised but effective “roadside repair” that will alleviate the problem – at least for the time being. Finally, on their previous visit to the island they had met Aris, a young stallion that Kleo had to castrate. Aris was seen again on this visit and is doing well, but he still appears to be a little agitated, and our vet recommended that he should find a new home, where the owners would have the time to give him the care and mental stimulation he needs. The Kasos leg of the visit was sponsored by Andreas and Anna Stamatiou.
In general, it was a tiring yet very interesting trip. It was once more observed that – unfortunately – there are no trained vets and farriers living on some of the smaller Greek islands, making GAWF's work even more significant. The owners, the vets and the volunteers that the team met on the trip were all extremely grateful for the team's visit, since – in some cases – it’s the only opportunity they have to get their questions answered and get treatment for their animals.We would like to thank The Donkey Sanctuary for funding the visit to Rhodes and Anna Stamatiou for funding the visit to Kasos.