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Helping the working donkeys in Crete

Horses, donkeys and mules have been used in Cretan agriculture since Minoan times. However, times change and due to technological advancements and urbanisation, equines are kept and used less and less every year. Exact numbers of equines in certain areas were acquired, however, the information dated back as far as 2001. We found these numbers no longer useful or accurate as they have, in reality, decreased tremendously.

The Equine Outreach Project began originally as a joint action with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) as part of an anti-hobbling project in 2002. Head-collars and information was provided for the owners of the working equines.

Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF) and the Donkey Sanctuary funded in the following years a visiting team of specialists including an equine vet, dentist and farrier. Within the Heraklion and Lassithi areas’ CAWS organized their schedule.

In 2009 CAWS decided to make these specialist-team visits more frequent and therefore has since organised two self funded visits per year (April & October) with the support of Cretan Donkey Care Foundation.

Our Equine Outreach Project aims to improve the welfare of working equines in remote areas of the island and to provide the local, and usually elderly, owners with a service essential to their livelihood. We are continuously expanding our working area and an average of 70 donkeys per visit – among other animals such as goats and horses – receive treatment. This brings our project costs to approx. €18 per animal helped – a small price to pay for such an essential service to the animals and the community!