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The wind of change has brought SAWA's INDEPENDANCY!


A new era has begun for the future of the animals of Santorini, exciting and challenging at the same time. For us it all comes down to one sentence:

"Never underestimate the power of a small group of determined and very passionate people devoted to a goal beyond them...."

Since SAWA was forced to leave the shelter at the village of Karterados in 2016, that was based on community grounds, a great oddyssey commenced involving the plight to help us aquire land for the animals that were going to end up in the streets.

Finally that dream came true with your support and we found land on the mountain of Pyrgos that was bought in the name of the German Association Tierschutzverein Santorini and the future looked so bright once again. The title was going to be passed over to the Greek local animal welfare organization-our organization- SAWA but after 4 long years of building and investing time, donations and energy it never happened.

Then we were promised a rental contract that would allow us to apply for a Shelter License since for all these years we had been operating without any legal basis. Last July the Veterinary Department of the South Aegean deployed its head to inspect us and urge us to apply for a shelter license asap as the infrastructure was strong enough and just needed some additions. This State License would allow SAWA to accomodate at any given time up to 150 stray dogs.

Sadly the German Association had a different view and never provided SAWA with a rental contract leading to a 3 month warning from the Veterinary Dept of Greece to apply for a license or face the evacuation and closure of the shelter. Moreover we were ordered from the German Association to bring down our own organization and surrender all assets that were donated and belonged to SAWA and of course not to cooperate with other organizations providing help in food, infrastructure and most important of all finding homes for our animals the last 2 years volunteers, other organizations and even visitors were banned from entering the shelter...

In Greece you must fulfill 3 basic preconditions in order to operate in the sector of animal welfare


1.A legal Greek NGO with a Local legal Representative

2.A Memorandum of Cooperation with the Municipality

3. A shelter license that we came close to aquire.

Needless to say that the forementioned organization does not posess any of the above. This monopoly did not follow our values or beliefs in any manner serving to animal welfare and the last year has been more than tough as the chances of aquiring land complying with the conditions to build a legal shelter on Santorini were from slim to zero.

We sadly experienced a storm of lawsuits and threats, so did our sister organization Auf Achse für die fellnasen auf Santorini...a great loss of money and energy spent to what cause, "animal welfare" ? The control over a small local organization seeking its INDEPENDANCY and keeping its animals safe? Wouldn‘t it be wiser to raise this money that is required for these legal cases and donate it to the purpose we all contribute to - animal welfare since the streets of the island are overflowing of animals in need?

Well, our team never gave up. A team of devoted animal lovers from all around the world, some working together for over a decades. Most of us met in the old primitive shelter of KARTERADOS, a small patch of land full of problems but even more full of love.

On the way more key figures showed up offering not only a helping hand but two big arms full of devotion and care, lifting our mission even higher. So it all came down to one common decision of attempting the impossible, to start over for the third and final time.

Our Ithaka will always be a forever safe haven on the island of Santorini for all animals great and small. But the journey itself is the most important part of this goal and it brought us all closer than ever.


We are finally very, very, very happy to announce that SAWA has secured land to continue its mission, as you might be familiar with our humour it has already been nick-named "SAWAland" and this dream became reality mainly because of two very special souls, Gaby and Fritz, who sacrifized a lot without a second thought and decided to aquire this land for the future of the animals. An act of unconditional an unwavering love for the ones in need and the victory of INDEPENDANCY that always goes hand in hand with hard work and commitment.

SAWA has been cooperating closely with the Municipality of Santorini the last 12 years and finally on Tuesday morning with their intervention we managed to bring back all donkeys, mules and horses to the new land. All farm animals and most of the dogs have also been moved and some are still accomodated in a dog pension until we have more areas.

These 8 months all rescuers, organizations and friends accomplished also the impossible by rehoming almost 100 dogs from the previous shelter in the midst of a pandemic and we will never forget the work and personal sacrifices you all made to ensure they are not left behind, so many of you even opened your homes and hearts to foster or even adopt a second or third Santorini stray and there are no words to thank you from the heart.


So please forgive our lack of interaction with the public the last year. We never abandoned our mission and now we want to open our doors again to all of you in order to be able to build a proper and loving place for the animals that at the same time will accomodate volunteers from around the world.


Thank you for your support! We will you keep you posted on all our new adventures!
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