MEET CLAUDIA PRENNTZELL, FOUNDER OF PAROSHUNDE IN MUNICH, WHO RECEIVES MOST OF THE DOGS SENT BY PAWS TO HER CENTRE IN BAVARIA.
(Interview by Lena Yacoumopoulou. Translated from the German by Martina Blair)
Describe how you started receiving dogs in Germany and why did you choose Paros?
When looking for a nice place to go on holiday somewhere far away from mass tourism we came across the beautiful Cycladic island of Paros. Everything started at the beach of Agia Irini. I happened to notice a woman who went for a swim with several dogs regularly. At the time I had four dogs myself so we started talking soon. It didn’t take long for me to visit her private shelter. That’s how I met Barbara Bürki. After a year I went on holiday to Paros again with my partner Uli; we were already infected with the “Paros virus” and were thinking about adopting another dog, since two of our four dogs had died in the meantime. So it would be a Paros dog! We found him at Barbara’s and we named him Paro. That must have been the beginning of my animal welfare work for the island Paros: with three grown dogs, 2 puppies, Barbara with a massage bed and Uli the driver we drove a rather overloaded Opel Kadett onto the ferry to Santorini. Some nice flight escorts (flugpate) accompanied the dogs to Nürnberg, where my father picked them up. I myself flew home a week later with the decision to support Barbara and to set up a base for Paros dogs in South Germany. We started looking for homes for the dogs in the autumn of 2006. For two years I helped Barbara find homes for over 100 dogs in the area around Munich before I founded the association “Paroshunde e.V.” with seven other like-minded people. As an association it was easier to get donations for our welfare work which costs a lot in transport, dog food and vet bills.
How do you find homes for the dogs?
First of all we created a website to be able to advertise our association and feature the dogs that were looking for homes. Through flyers and ads in shops, veterinarian clinics and pet shops we were soon well known. Now we post ads in local and big German animal portals on the internet and are very successful with that. The best advertising though we get is through families that have already adopted a dog through Paroshunde and who tell others about their experiences. You can read one very impressive reaction in our guestbook http://www.paroshunde.de/2109--%7Ede%7Ehome%7Egaestebuch.html
Why would Germans adopt a dog from Greece when there are so many shelters in Germany?
Many people want to adopt puppies but in German shelters it’s very hard to find puppies. There are many older and big dogs in the shelters there and also some that have behavioral problems, and these are not easy to find homes for. And it’s a fact that dogs in German shelters are supplied for well enough, they have a place to sleep and get veterinary treatment. I also find that the behavior of Paros’ street dogs is completely different. They are very friendly and give their owners so much love and loyalty. I feel that they are very grateful.
What are some of the problems in transporting dogs from Paros?
This year the expenses for transport were the most difficult problem to tackle. There are less flights and the expenses have risen. That’s why we have to try hard to find the most economical way to handle this. We also have to beware of the so-called Mediterranean illnesses, for example Leishmaniasis, which luckily only occurred very rarely with our Paros dogs. Everybody who adopts one of our dogs gets the so-called “Mediterranean checkup”, paid by our association, 6 months after adoption.
Do Parian dogs generally adapt well to their new homes?
Before we hand the dogs over to their new families we check the homes first. We control the circumstances under which the dogs are to live and by getting to know the people we find out whether we think the dogs will fit in their family. This is why we always ask PAWS for information about the personality of the desired dog. This is not always easy when the dog has already spent some time in the kennel. If we approve of the new home then there’s nothing in the way of the placement. We only give the dogs away with a contract. It happens sometimes that we decline an interested party’s application and sometimes the dogs don’t match their family after all and we keep the dog in a foster home until we find somebody else. When the chemistry between dog and owner goes wrong, it’s usually the fault of the human!
Paroshunde also helps finance the rehoming of dogs to Germany. Can you explain how?
Since 2009 we supported PAWS with donations over 7000 Euro. This way we were able to help build the animal shelter in Tripiti. Paroshunde e.V. also pays for most of the transports to Bavaria. But improving animal welfare in Paros is the most important thing for me. I wish for better treatment of animals and a full neutering program. However, this cannot be achieved with only two small animal welfare associations and their volunteers. We need more coverage in the media for a start. But it’s the small steps that bring the greatest results. I’m very happy that the municipality of Paros is supporting PAWS lately. Since 2005 I am on Paros every late summer and see less and less stray dogs in the streets. This encourages me and my team to continue with our work. Animal welfare from Bavaria to Paros: it would be great if one day we could say “Europe is growing closer, even in animal welfare!”
Paroshunde website: www.paroshunde.de