Betty's Blog

Meet our little stars

Starlight Barking is a tribute to all the Little Stars all over the World who battle tirelessly to improve the lives of dogs in distress. 

First off we’d like to introduce you to one of the smallest shelters in Greece run by just 2 volunteers with very big hearts and even bigger dreams for the 80+ dogs in their care. 

Lemnos Dog Shelter

When we first met Fotini and Vaggelio in 2015, they had just taken on the massive task of volunteering on their days off to care for 80+ dogs living as a pack in the “shelter” in the middle of nowhere. The conditions were heartbreaking – we saw grown men hiding tears when they saw the “life” the dogs had. 

The shelter and adoptions are managed by Fotini, who is a young full-time mum and ground crew at Lemnos Airport together with her best friend, Vaggelio, who works at one of the island hotels. 

They have the occasional help of a few family, friends and a handful of wonderful children, including Fotini’s son, Victor, who since a young age, has hand reared so many puppies and become an expert at socialising the older shy dogs. 

What was really magical, right from the start, was the way this Dynamic Duo tackled this enormous task before them. They just got on and did it, no whinging, just lots of courage and determination and 6 years on they have achieved nothing short of a miracle. 

Early days they were still learning themselves, basics like how to safely administer flea treatments and worming pills to a pack of 80 hyper dogs who are just so pleased to see you they can’t sit still. Or the time they couldn’t refuse the offer from a group of British uni students to bath and pamper all the dogs…..another story for another day! We did survive and the dogs loved their mud baths!

But by far their biggest hurdles were the lack of support from the local community and municipality and the 30+ Ghost Dogs who had languished at the shelter for years – with no sign of a home. 

On our first visit the enormity of what they faced seemed impossible, but the determination of these two incredible women was so infectious we offered to help. 

We too were on a learning curve. Despite being tour operators and managing to get 4 puppies back from Lemnos the year before, we had quickly realised that dog travel was a whole new ball game. 

Fotini picked our very first dog out. Alfie – a gorgeous retriever who had been found tied up one morning outside the shelter 2 years previously. Finding Alfie a home was the easy bit. Getting him to the UK was the challenge. Unlike bigger islands there was no way to get Alfie off the island direct to the UK by plane.

Five years on, we’ve also learned so much about dog travel and now have dogs travelling fairly seamlessly from the island. Our dogs deserve the best. They are picked up direct from the shelter in Lemnos and travel back to the UK with the most amazing team of professional drivers who take time enroute with frequent stops to walk and socialize the dogs and keep their new owners informed about their precious pups. 

The Lemnos Shelter will probably always be “home” to 80+ dogs because as fast as one dog is homed, there’s another dumped at the shelter or, in the case of puppies, found dumped with the garbage. Our long-term priority is to support neutering campaigns throughout Greece but for the moment are concentrating on finding homes. 

Since 2019 Fotini and Vaggelio have linked us up with a Swedish rescue charity and together we have become so much stronger. We work together and share best practice for re-homing and do our utmost between us to pair the right dog to the right home.

It’s a brilliant team effort with Fotini and Vaggelio very much at the heart. Fotini’s passion comes across in her Instagram posts with a daily stream of photos of Vaggelio and Maria with the new arrivals. If you know someone looking to adopt then please tell them to follow Fotini’s Instagram: @fay_lemnos_dogs_shelter 

If you’d like to get involved in any way or would like to adopt a Lemnos dog – we still have still have an enormous number of hunting dogs looking for homes: setters, pointers, retrievers and spaniels all dumped after the hunting season and sadly, an endless stream of puppies. 

If you would like more info on adopting a dog from Lemnos please contact: 

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