Animal Welfare on Karpathos/Kasos
This is a month-long experience volunteering to support the cause of animal welfare on small Greek islands — and in turn raise the awareness of the local population — with full support from the local municipality. Our goal is to reduce the stray dog and cat population on the neighboring islands of Karpathos and Kasos with a high-volume spay and neuter campaign.
Scholarships will be offered to young people who profess financial need. An option to pay for the program is also available. The program includes the cost of lodging, program expenses including excursions, transportation within Karpathos/Kasos and partial meals.
We are seeking volunteers age 18 and older — with preference to pre-veterinary/veterinary students. See below for the full program details.
Partner & Location
We will work under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office of Karpathos, led by Mayor Yiannis Nisirios, who is legally responsible for the care of the stray animal population. Nisirios and his office have embraced our project and will enthusiastically offer not only their support but also space for us to work.
Our team will spend the entire month on Karpathos — except for a four-day excursion to Kasos, one of the smallest inhabited islands throughout Greece which lies only a brief ferry ride away from Karpathos.
Program Dates & Description
This program begins on June 13, 2020 with an informal arrival, registration and check-in at the hotel. Program participants MUST be on Karpathos on June 13, 2020 without exception. The program will conclude on July 13, 2020. Participants should plan to depart Karpathos on that day.
Our program will begin with an orientation on June 14, 2020. Participants will learn each step of a successful high volume spay neuter campaign (humane trapping, pre operative preparation, surgical monitoring and assisting, post operative recovery, release). Over the course of the program, we will also learn about the history of Karpathos and Kasos.
Volunteers will work closely with and under the supervision of our two licensed veterinarians who specialize in high-volume spay and neuter surgery. Volunteer locations will be in Karpathos town as well as numerous spots throughout the island.
Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 8-9 hours per day performing various tasks such as morning trapping of patients, preparation of patients for surgery, assisting in surgeries, assisting in patient recovery, assisting in patient release, cleaning of the medical equipment and assisting in patient release the following day.
We have planned weekend excursions to the beaches, villages, museums and sites of Karpathos, as well as the four-day excursion to Kasos.
Our group will be led by an experienced team from the Greek America Foundation (see below for program leader bio). There will be group activities such as meals, regular team meetings and social gatherings.
Airfare to Greece from the U.S. or Canada is not included. Participants will be asked to cover their own transportation to Karpathos. Greek America Foundation staff can help with international and domestic travel arrangements, as well as domestic air or ferry details.
Lodging in Karpathos (and Kasos) is provided from June 13, 2020 (check-in) to July 13, 2020 (check out) for a total of 30 nights in shared rooms at a local hotel. Rooms will be equipped with wifi, air conditioning, a mini-fridge and a safe.
Transportation on the island of Karpathos to and from volunteer locations is included when required. Transportation will be provided for non-walkable volunteer locations and excursions. All excursions on weekends and other special activities are also included.
The Greek America Foundation will purchase travel medical insurance to cover emergency and routine medical needs only for the dates of the program. Please make sure to hold your own health insurance policy as well and check whether coverage is available abroad.
On-site staff will be available 24/7 to support volunteers.
Excursions & Cultural Programs
Integral to the Greek America Foundation’s mission and the goals of Greek America Corps, we hope to introduce the participants to the local history and culture of our host island(s) during the month-long program. During some free evenings and on the weekends, we will plan organized excursions to various points of interest on the island.
The group will visit some of Karpathos’ oldest and most scenic villages, including the mountainside settlement of Olympos. Known as the “Live Museum of Greece,” the ancient village is known for its rich history tracing back thousands of years. In this town, volunteers will stroll through narrow alleyways, mingle with hospitable locals dressed in colorful traditional attire — and be invited into a typical Karpathian house to learn firsthand about the island’s unique way of life tracing back generations.
Special experiences involving local foods, wine and live Greek music/dance will further immerse our team into local customs and culture. Volunteers will also visit some of the island’s most sacred churches and cathedrals featuring stunning architecture and rich history.
Sailboat and yacht trips will transport our team along Karpathos’ stunning coastline to some of its beautiful beaches. These trips will consist of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing– time to relax after a busy week of volunteer work. The program also includes a visit to a nearby remote and unpopulated island with various exotic plants and animals.
Scholarships & Program Fees
For students with financial need, scholarships covering all program fees will be offered. Airfare to Greece is not covered by scholarship funds. Applicants may also opt to pay if no financial need exists. The cost for participation is $2,999.00 — plus airfare to Greece.
The cost of the complete package includes accommodations for 30 nights, breakfast daily, 3-4 additional meals per week, all weekend excursions and the 4-day excursion to Kasos — including transportation to the island and accommodation.
What’s NOT included: Airfare to and from Greece and additional meals not included in our regular programming. Volunteers should budget approximately 60-70 euros per week for additional meals. Local laundry service is also available at a very limited cost.
Our volunteer work is rewarding in the best sense — you give of yourself and get more back than you gave. Confronting the issue of animal welfare is engaging work that provides valuable real-life experience for aspiring veterinarians and others alike.
Our program will consist of three teams of volunteers who will be alternating roles every week in an effort to teach each of the volunteers the basic steps of a successful high volume spay/neuter campaign. Each of the volunteers will learn how to: humanely trap stray animals, perform physical examinations, administer medications, prepare patients for surgery, assist during surgery, monitor anesthesia, and safely recover the patients following the procedure.
For this program we encourage pre-veterinary, veterinary and engineering students to apply. Engineering students will assist with the design and development of feeding stations and shelter stations for the strays in conjunction with the needs of the local municipality and community. Pre veterinary and veterinary students will assist with all other aspects of the program.
- pre veterinary (undergraduate) students with a strong interest in veterinary medicine and animal welfare
- veterinary students in accredited American veterinary colleges.
- Engineering students with an interest in non for profit animal welfare work and interest in developing feeding stations and shelters for the strays.
Past volunteer experiences in animal welfare or spay/neuter campaigns is preferred but not required as you will be taught all the necessary steps of a high volume spay/neuter campaign. Animal handling experience is preferred. Past experience in veterinary clinics is preferred.
Volunteers will be required to have up to date vaccinations for hepatitis B and tetanus/diphtheria and provide proof of these vaccinations. Though Karpathos island does not have documented cases of rabies, when working with animals current rabies vaccination is strongly encouraged. If you have proof of rabies vaccination please provide that with your application packet.
2 references are required for your application. The references can be from current professors or veterinarians you have worked with.
Preparation for the campaign
Once selected, all volunteers will be required to study the material that Dr. Katogiritis will provide and participate in three online skype sessions prior to the campaign. During the skype sessions the steps of the high volume spay/neuter campaign and basic medical facts will be introduced in detail.
The Greek America Foundation seeks volunteers who are able to handle quickly changing environments, encountering people from different cultures and sharing viewpoints and the emotional ups and downs that come with working in challenging conditions. Our volunteer work may at times be physically demanding: summer temperatures in Greece can reach 100 degrees and we will be outside at times engaging in physical activity. Please note that we will always be mindful of putting everyone’s health first during hot weather.
Our staff will be on hand to provide support and encouragement. We encourage all volunteers to practice self-care while engaged in this work. Having strong boundaries, knowing your limits and when to take a break are important skills while volunteering.
Earn College Credit
For an additional fee of $840 USD, participants have the option to accrue college credit that can be applied to their studies at their home institution via our partnership with the Hellenic American University, a U.S.-accredited institution of higher education in Athens. Students are responsible for checking with their home institutions about transfer of credits. A counselor at Hellenic American University will be made available to assist, as will a curriculum and coursework. Please mention in your application if you wish to receive this credit.
This program will be led by Karpathos native Dr. Anna Katogiritis. Dr. Katogiritis, who is based in the United States, holds a degree in molecular biology from the University of Crete (Greece) and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (US). Dr. Katogiritis has been involved in animal welfare campaigns for more than 15 years. As an animal rights and animal welfare advocate, she has volunteered numerous times in Greece, Sierra Leone, Congo and Indonesia — among other countries — where she has assisted organizations with the rehabilitation and medical care of wildlife and domestic animals. Dr. Katogiritis currently serves as the director and co-founder of Jane Goodall’s R&S Greece, an Athens-based non-profit which is Dr. Jane Goodall’s official office in Greece. She specializes in small animal emergency medicine, wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, animal rights and animal welfare of domestic animal populations — particularly in underdeveloped regions.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’d like to attend another program/conference/family celebration. Can I join the program late or leave at any time?
Participants are expected to be present for the duration of the program as detailed above and not attend other events.
What’s a typical day like?
**NOTE: Times subject to change. A detailed schedule will be provided closer to the start of the program.
– Morning breakfast
– 8:00-8:30am: Meeting at the spay/neuter center to review the plan of the day
– 8:30am-9am: Teams will assess the patients that received surgery the day prior.
– 9am-12pm: Release of the spayed/neutered patients and trapping of new patients
– 12pm-1pm: Lunch
– 1pm-5pm: Surgical procedures will be ongoing as the stray cats/dogs arrive
– 5pm-6pm: Cleaning of medical supplies in preparation for the next day.
– 6pm-6:30pm: Volunteer meeting – a quick recap of the day.
Is it safe to be in Karpathos and Kasos?
The Greek America Foundation vets all volunteer locations for safety and suitability for our volunteers. Likewise, our partners are also vetted for accountability and ability to handle our volunteer group. Karpathos and Kasos are both safe islands. Reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure safety at all times. Volunteers will receive safety training and guidance on behavior best practices for a variety of contexts.
Do I need to speak Greek to participate?
English and Greek will be the main languages spoken in the volunteer program. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but knowledge of the language is a definite plus for our volunteers. Interpreters will be available at times. Please note that most of the inhabitants of Karpathos island are fluent in English.
DEADLINE: March 7, 2020 @ 11:59 PM EST
Applicants that have been accepted into the program will be notified on a rolling basis beginning on February 14. All applicants will be notified by March 27 at the latest.
Why this program?
Karpathos has an estimated 1,000 stray animals on the island that are often subject to neglect, or even abuse. The situation is exacerbated during the winter months when restaurants and hotels close for the season.
The island’s Mayor, Yiannis Nisirios, embraced our program from its inception. With the municipality’s support, our twelve volunteers from the Greek America Foundation, led by two licensed veterinarians who specialize in high-volume spay and neuter surgeries, will visit the island to help stem the overpopulation problem.
Simultaneously, our volunteers will study Karpathos’ current situation and will devise and implement a viable strategy to provide long-term wellness for the island’s strays. This may include feeding stations, a public awareness campaign and engagement with the local community.
Our program will consist of a series of high-volume spay and neuter expeditions, following international best-practice protocols. These campaigns will be carried out by 3 volunteer teams daily, each with its own task, including the humane trapping of animals from their natural habitats, surgery preparation, microchipping, surgery and post-surgery recovery. Finally, animals will be returned to their original habitats.
A 4-day excursion will also take place to nearby Kasos, an island that also has an alarmingly high number of strays. There, as well, the island’s Mayor, Mr. Michalis Erotokritos, has embraced our project.