After having fed the strays for many years, and realizing the need for a safe escape for them, something needed to be done. In agreement with the mayor, a small piece of land was allocated for this purpose, land that to this day is owned by the municipality.
There were a few constructions in place already, two buildings that could serve as larger dog houses, and some fencing to for separate areas.
In September of 2009 it became an unofficial shelter in the city of Livadia, Greece.
Starting with just a few dogs, caring for them with the facilities available, providing veterinary care and food, paid from her own salary, it was the first step to what is today.
This first step, and one woman's complete dedication, little did she know, that one day, she would change many lives.
This photo is what made Elpida.
With the growing community of Facebook users helping stray dogs around the world, this photo once came up in a newsfeed. It told a story about Nina, who was attacked by another dog and now badly injured at the veterinary.
The woman who cared for her was struggling to cover the expenses, with a very modest income, and many mouths to feed. Via Facebook, contact was made with this woman, asking if she would accept help from abroad, starting a page, try and raise funds, maybe find homes for some of her dogs.
In January 2012, Elpida the shelter of Hope made its first post on Facebook.
Starting with a small team and network, two years on we have a dedicated team of 12 women and almost 6000 followers.
And Nina? She lives her happily efter after in the UK..
Thanks to the amazing support we have had over the last few years, we have been able to make great improvements at the shelter.
What once was bare land with two structures serving as housing, and fencing to separate three groups of dogs, is now divided into eight areas. Each area provides shade and housing for all the dogs, and we have separate enclosures for young puppies and dogs that can’t mix with the other groups. Large parts of the area was cemented to reduce mud slides. Trees were planted for shade as well as keeping mosquitos away. Where we once had just one storage area for food, we now how four, reducing the time needed to feed the dogs. Cabinets were installed for all medicines and other supplies that are used regularly for a better overview. Blankets and towels can also be stored and replaced when they are in need of washing.
We have, with great dedication, been able to raise funds to ensure that all the dogs that come in to the care of the shelter get the medical support needed. All dogs are blood tested, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, they are wormed and we do our outmost to provide the best protection we can against diseases spread by fleas, ticks and mosquitos. Once a dog is in the care of Elpida, we see it as our responsibility to ensure the best care we can provide, regardless of the costs.
Two years after creating the Elpida Facebook page, we take great pride in the almost 170 dogs we have been able to rehome. Dogs that otherwise would not have lived today. We have dogs homed in USA, Ierland, Scotland, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
Seeing these dogs now happy, is our greatest joy.
Any shelter holding up to 80 dogs at a time will face the need to replace and rebuild what is in use. Every now and then, we will ask for help to make minor structural improvements, to replace items that is no longer functional. New areas that needs cement, fencing that needs replacing, new roofing. New dog houses, drainage. It is our aim to always work as efficiently possibly with the funds that are entrusted to us, only doing the absolute necessary, but always keeping the wellbeing, safety and health of the dogs as number one priority, as well as such improvements that will make the running of the shelter easier and more efficient.
Funding towards our veterinary costs remains our greatest challenge. We want to be able to continue to provide the care needed – for each dog- because they all deserve it. Our food expenses are always guaranteed via our sponsor program. Food is essential, for the shelter dogs as well as the strays, who are being fed once a day. We always try to raise extra money for food so that the funds via our sponsors can be used towards veterinary expenses.
Our hopes are to one day be able to set up a spay and neuter program in the city to control the stray population. We have not received the cooperation from the municipality and until this can be realized, the stray population increases, meaning there is a constant and endless stream of dogs in need of help. The many un-spayed and un-neutered pets that are allowed to roam free result in more unwanted puppies.
Rehoming of our current dogs is therefore essential.
We do not know what the future holds for us.
But we know there is always Hope.