Happy horses in Hydra: Charity takes heat off Greek island’s working equines

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Before the shelters were erected, working equines on Hydra waited in the heat without any shade for their next trip.
Before the shelters were erected, working equines on Hydra waited in the heat without any shade for their next trip.

An animal charity boss has made his holiday count after initiating shelters for working donkeys and horses on the Greek island of Hydra.

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of working animal charity Spana, was on vacation with his family on the island two years ago, and soon learned that there were no motorised vehicles on the island – and that donkeys and horses were the main forms of transport.

Rubbish trucks are the only motor vehicles on the island, since, by law, cars and motorcycles are not allowed.

Dennis noticed that the animals that were used as taxis were made to wait for their next trip in uncomfortably high temperatures, with no shelter. Dennis immediately arranged a meeting with Hydra’s Port Authority officials to discuss measures that would relieve the working animals of this unnecessary distress.

Dennis, who has been Spana’s boss since early 2017, said the charity works in 26 developing countries providing free veterinary treatment to working animals, training owners and vets on the ground and teaching children the importance of kindness and compassion towards animals.

“It is at the heart of what we do as a charity, and not something you can simply switch off because you are on holiday,” he said.

The new shelters on the Greek island of Hydra provide shade for working horses and donkeys.
The new shelters on the Greek island of Hydra provide shade for working horses and donkeys.

Dennis also offered to help and advise the Port Authority with potential designs for shelters and explained the necessity of keeping the animals comfortable while working. Those shelters have now been constructed.

“I am delighted that the Port Authority took advice on shelter designs – I cannot wait to return to Hydra and see them for myself. While we don’t fund projects in affluent countries and locations like this, we are always happy to help in an advisory capacity.

“I believe the Port’s next goal is the establishment of a retirement sanctuary for the animals that can no longer work, and if they need suggestions or recommendations for this, I’d be happy to help.

“A life of work should not mean a life of suffering for animals.”

Hydra's port authority took advice from Spana on the new shelters that were built to help protect working equines from the heat.
Hydra’s port authority took advice from Spana on the new shelters that were built to help protect working equines from the heat.

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