As the financial crisis tightens its grip on Greece, an increasing number of people are being forced to cut as many expenses as possible, including their dogs.
These pooches were beloved family pets before the disaster. They are now abandoned, thrown out like garbage, and left to starve.
But one man, a former dentist, has begun picking up the pieces and has saved over 200 dogs on his own.
Theoklitos Proestakis, also known as Takis in the community, gave up almost everything to start his shelter after witnessing animal cruelty in his hometown of Lerapetra in southern Crete.
Takis, 44, told MailOnline, ‘I am completely alone here at the shelter.’ ‘I have no money; I had to sell my car and caravan; I have nothing.’ I had to take out a loan.
‘I was ready to sell it a few months ago because I couldn’t see myself continuing.’
Takis has been running the shelter, which has become a safe haven for dogs from all over his region, for more than three years and has rehomed over 40 dogs during that time.
‘I went to the rubbish dump one day and saw horrible and crazy things there,’ he continued, explaining why he established the center.
‘There were so many dogs, and they all had broken legs, were starving, and were sick and dying. It frightened me.
‘I just wanted to help them. So I started looking after them, taking them food and water and I was so happy when I saw they started to get stronger.
‘But the people who live in the neighbourhood started to get really angry with me, and telling me they were going to kill the dogs because they were becoming a nuisance.
‘So I started the shelter as somewhere safe where I could keep them.’
Now, the shelter has expanded to cover an area of 5,200 square-metres, with so many dogs that it costs Takis €1,300 every month just to feed them all, and a further €700 a month for vets bills.
Vets in Greece can’t afford to do anything for free, according to Takis, and even though he gets discounted rates it still costs €150 to neuter a female dog.
Over the three years he has paid, from his own pocket, to neuter some 50 or 60 dogs.