The Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary says donkeys and mules on the Greek Island of Santorini are still suffering from abuse; now the charity has launched a campaign to raise awareness of their plight and a petition to stop their suffering.
For years, unknowing tourists using the ‘burro taxis’ to get from the ferry port to the town of Thira have been causing the animals much suffering; the animals wear poorly fitted harnessing (exacerbated by overweight riders), are often cruelly treated by their masters, and the provision of food, water and shelter is rarely satisfactory.
During the last year, The Donkey Sanctuary was led to believe significant improvements would be made with the full support of the Municipality of Thira and donkey masters, who had agreed to work to a special code of practice designed to protect the donkeys’ and mules’ most basic welfare needs.
But the Sanctuary has continued to receive complaints from holidaymakers and has been carrying out spot checks on the animals, which have revealed that standards slip whenever the charity is not present on the island.
Paul Svendsen, the Sanctuary’s Director of European Operations, says: “It seems that when our back is turned, the abuse begins all over again. Donkey masters beat the animals, we even witnessed one of them holding on to the tail of a mule to pull him up the hill. It’s just not acceptable and, as a charity dedicated to the protection of donkeys and mules, we are not about to sit back and let this continue.”
The charity commenced a petition at the end of May and has already gathered the support of around 3,200 supporters and individuals.
The Donkey Sanctuary has spent many years trying to work alongside the municipality and donkey masters to make improvements for the donkeys and mules, to no avail. Until such time that the code of practice is genuinely implemented and enforced at Santorini, the charity will no longer offer its support and will endeavour to publicise the suffering endured by the ‘burro taxis’.