Karl, one of the rescued mules of SAWA – Santorini Animal Welfare, passed away this week, after receiving all the love he deserved during the last years of his life.
His personal story tell a lot about the horrible life working animals have been living in Greece. Unfortunately, most campaigns focus on the “overweight tourists” that ride donkeys and mules, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
most campaigns focus on the “overweight tourists” that ride donkeys and mules, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I understand that those campaigns make nice headlines, but they do not help the animals really. As Christina said, “when the tourist season is over, the animals don’t rest”. The only thing that happens in winter, is that the tourists are not around to witness what those animals have to go through.
Karl, like all working donkeys and mules, have been literally building the Greek islands for hundreds of years. They carry building materials, trash, electric devices, entire living rooms, dining tables, closets you name it, transferring our stuff to places where no vehicle can go to.
The only thing that happens in winter, is that the tourists are not around to witness what those animals have to go through
They are loaded with more weight that they can carry, they work day and night, they are not give enough food or water and they are treated like objects – to say the least, the average muleteer treats his car better than he treats his mule.
all working donkeys and mules, have been literally building the Greek islands for hundreds of years
Karl had been working so hard that he suffered from a condition in his lower back that made him “useless”, and he was in so much pain, that he would lay down very often – something uncommon for equines, and needed help to stand back up.
Apart from being used and abused for years, Karl learned to work out of fear, like most of those beautiful animals. He had been so abused that it took the SAWA volunteers an entire year to manage to touch him. Imagine what he though of us people, imagine how many times he had been beaten and forced to work with an aching back and an empty stomach.
Karl had been so abused that it took the SAWA volunteers an entire year to manage to touch him
Eventually, Karl recovered mentally, and he became an affectionate, loving boy. He would run to greet you and always tired to squeeze in for a hug.
The problem in his back was deteriorating, and lately Karl needed help to get back on his feet. Becky, a female rescue dog was always by his side when he was vulnerable, keeping him company and protecting him until he could get up again.
Last Saturday, on July 3rd, even though Karl’s heart was still willing, his back legs finally gave up on him. The volunteers used a stretcher to move him under the shade and let him enjoy a big watermelon and apples with his friends who gathered to say goodbye.
working animals sentient beings, they can forgive and forget, enjoy life and trust again us humans
“With the assistance of the vet, Karl crossed the Rainbow Bridge so peacefully as if he just drifted in a deep sleep. The impact of Karl is huge to us because he was the living proof that even a working animal consists the most sentient of beings and can forgive and forget the pain afflicted to him, enjoy life and trust again us humans. Farewell Karl, until we meet again.”
After learning about Karl’s death, I realized why Christina, the amazing woman that runs Santorini Animal Welfare Association SAWA gets emotional every time she talks about the working equines. Some of them, unlike Karl who had a few good years, come to her literally days before they die, because they are overworked until their final breaths. You can watch her amazing work in the video below. Follow the SAWA faebook page here, and if you like, make a small donation.