The short and simple answer is: NO.
To allow you to better understand why not, here is an explanation of the costs involved.
Let us begin with saying that the responsibility of dealing with strays and animal welfare in general should fall on the various municipalities throughout Greece, however due to various reasons (the lack of funding, lack of interest, lack of proper structures), not all municipalities throughout Greece are capable of managing animal welfare issues, and many of the ones who have shelters, have often been reported of using practices which are inhumane, such as simply rounding up strays to later euthanize them through gassing or other cruel means.
Although there are good animal welfare laws in effect, they are often disregarded and not enforced.
This is one of the reason why so many animal lovers have come together and formed private animal welfare organizations that do not receive any public funding, as none seem to be available or allotted to them, and exists solely with the support of a few kind benefactors and occasional donations.
Let’s take a look at an organization that runs a shelter, and let’s assume that the organization already has some type of facility, a structure to operate from (the permits, the construction, the material, the workmanship, etc. all comes with a hefty price tag, but in this piece we will not focus on such expenses).
Are animal welfare making money by exporting Greek strays abroad?
The organization/shelter will intake cats and dogs in needs, strays that are struggling to survive on the streets, or that have a health condition, they will receive animal which are being surrendered by their owners, plus they will receive a fair amount of animals simply dumped and abandoned at their door.
These animals will need to be fed and watered daily. A person or people will need to clean after them and care for them. In the case of MCAWS individuals that are not paid for such services, simply donate whatever time they are able to carve out of their busy schedule, while working full time jobs and caring for their families.
Assuming that there are no major health issues to deal with, which would create additional veterinary expenses, each animal requires:
De-worming tablets : 4 euros per 10kg
Flea and tick prevention: 10 euros per month
Sterilization: 70-180 euros depending on gender and size
The goal is to find them a loving home as soon as possible, both because the animal deserves love and affection and a chance to a good life, and also because it costs money to feed and care for them month after month.
Once a loving home is found, through a partnering organization which could be a local Greek organization, an interested party stopping by at the shelter wanting to adopt, or through an international organization (we partner with Holland, Austria, Germany, the UK, the US and Canada), there are several requirements that need to be met: first is a thorough screening and home inspection of the adopting party.
MCAWS turns away people often, both locals as well as foreigners.
Having approved someone to adopt, a contract is signed agreeing to treat the animal within the terms and conditions of such contract, they agree and are aware that they can be monitored at any time and that the animal will be confiscated for non-compliance.
If the adoption is international, there are strict guidelines and documents to be filled out based on each country of destination. They involve obtaining a passport, a microchip, vaccines done within a specific time frame, internal and external parasite control, a cage for transport, and a ticket to travel.
Let’s break it down:
20 euro per passport,
20 euros for the vaccines,
4 euro per 10kg of dewormer,
10 euros per flea and tick spot on,
20 euro for microchip and this excludes vet visit.
Cages range from 70 euros-130 on average
Flights going from 75-200 euros.
Sterilization, which costs anywhere from 70-180 for a large female (these are discounted rates, full price could reach as high as 250).
It is our policy to provide sterilization for every dog over 6 months old adopted through us, to insure they do not contribute to unwanted litters.
For a 10 kg female dog we are looking at a minimum of 344 euros so far, for a full sized large dog it can be as high as 585 euros .
So the average cost per dog to a shelter is approximately 350 euros, not counting feeding the animal for however long it has been in their possession, and however many month of flea, internal parasite and heartworm treatment the animal received.
MCAWS does ask for an adoption fee of 100 euros for local adoptions, and 200 euros for international adoptions, which in either case does not begin to cover the cost incurred in helping that animal, or the time and effort that has gone into organizing, networking and caring for it.
In MCAWS case, located on an island with no airport, we often need to pay additional fees for ferry/boat transport to get the pets to the airport.
I hope this will help dispel the flawed idea that Greek animal welfares are cashing in million by adopting their animals abroad.
We are simply very grateful to be part of a network of animal lovers who are willing to spend their time and money in helping us to give these animals a second chance at life.