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Rescue operation for hundreds of pets left behind when locals fled Attica forest fire

Hundreds of pets, dogs and cats but also small farming animals were left behind when thousands of locals fled the forest fire in Varimpompi, Thrakomakedones, Adames after receiving orders to evacuate on Tuesday. This activated dozens of animal loving volunteers who rushed in a huge search and rescue operation in extreme conditions of heat, suffocating atmosphere and flames to rescue animals in panic, scared, thirsty and injured and in need of medical aid.

via Alma Libre – Hellenic Animal Rescue on FB.

They collected dogs and cats of all ages and breeds, domesticated and strays, brought to safety goats, tried to find water for chicken and rabbits abandoned in farms or in land plots.

Many were brought just in safety, others to the many clinics and vets’ who opened their doors for the treatment of animals free of charges.

Volunteers called for donations in food, water and bowls and citizens responded. On Wednesday morning they went again in the area leaving bowls of fresh water and food for those that they were still hiding.

Some dogs and cats reportedly disappeared in the panic of the hour and the approaching blaze.

“Dog found horrified at a yard. He was given water.” and then left behind. Nobody called an animal welfare… Some volunteers noted that the same happens after every forest fire, they go search and rescue abandoned pets.

In many cases, they were just left behind like the 15 dogs who were just abandoned in a land plot or several goats that were rescued and now seek a place to be hosted.


At the same time, big efforts were made to rescue the some 300 horses in the several riding clubs in the region. As the police did not allow owners and staff to transport the animals in organized style, they were set free and run around until they could be collected again and brought to safety.

Horses at Varimpompi square on Tuesday afternoon before the blaze burns down also the businesses and homes around.

The Greek Equestrian Federation said on Wednesday that 253 horses, 23 ponies and 2 donkeys were rescued and transported in facilities in Markopoulo, East Attica. They were in distress but their condition was not of concern and they received they aid they needed.

Τhe Horse Club of Verimpompi was burned down.


As for the wildlife in the forest… here is what cartoonist Yiannis Dermetoglou posted: ‘banner’: We are burning.”

What to do

As the search and rescue efforts continue and there is no end, if you can foster a animal, check here at NGO Dog’s voice

The needs are huge as animal lovers keep discovering abandoned and injured animals.

More articles on the rescue effort and what to do to help in anyway at

And many dead animals, of course, that found a torturing death suffocating or burning to death. I cannot post these pictures, too many and too heartbreaking.

Some pet owners posted on social media that authorities had told them to leave their pets behind during the evacuation.

Ι read on social media that in the area there are (maybe: were?) several pet pensions where owners had left their pets for vacations and that they were left to run free as apparently the facilities had no evacuation plan.

In the forest fire of Varimpompi as in any other fire, it is the voiceless who pay the price.

***Thumbnail picture shot Wednesday morning in Varimpompi by @Tony Rigopoulos

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  1. Heartbreaking! Wish I could help but I’m too far away….
    A big thank you to the people who give help, you are heroes!

  2. In my country,Finland,we have had forestfires too,a big one in the West Finland. There are residents who are in alert,but i read an interview where a man told that the first they take with them are two cats and a dog,everything else can be left behind. If roads are open and cars can be used,the only emphaty,humanity ,is to take care of your pets,they are FAMILY!!Been talked about this with my daughter,we couldnt think anything else than save our loving pets FIRST if this happened to us. Although fortunately the infrastructure in Finland is something else than in other parts of Europe….

  3. If there is anything that sums up the disgusting Greek attitudes to animals, it’s this. Stray cats and dogs are born to die on their streets, poisoned, and treated like vermin so perhaps we should not be surprised but.
    I have three cats and would never dream of leaving them behind. They are family and the first thing to pack. It takes a matter of minutes to get your dog or load your cat into the carrier. This is absolutely disgusting and inexcusable.

  4. How can anyone leave their animals behind in such terrible circumstances? They rely on you, and all you can do is let them down, leaving them to die an excruciating death.
    Thank heavens there are those who come to the rescue, who bravely confront the savage elements in order to move animals to safety, to feed and water them, and treat their injuries. Thank you for doing that, your halos shine brightly.
    If an organisation publishes details I will gladly send money/food to help. xx

  5. schneider elisabeth

    Unbelievable that people would leave their pets behind, they are the first I would save. This lack of conscience is just heartbreaking. I am very upset about wildlife that no one talks about, just like if these living things did not exist. I cry for all animals dying in those fires, what is going to be left ???