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Society

A Young Man in Crete Dedicates His Life to Taking Care of Stray Dogs

February 14, 2019

Nikos Tsikalakis is a 38 year old man who lives like a hermit in Crete, his heart full of love for all the unprotected and stray dogs that have been brutally abused by cruel people.

His situation is unique. Owning one acre of land in Kalo Horio in the municipality of Hersonissos in Heraklion, Crete, he lives under primitive conditions.

He moved there in July 2018 after having been kicked out of the place where used to live in Christos, Ierapetra (Lasithi Prefecture) on Crete. He was living in an abandoned building along with the stray dogs of the village, trying to take good care of them.

Nevertheless the villagers were unwilling to understand what he did and why he did it so they kept harassing him in order to force him to leave the place – and they succeeded.

Meanwhile a Swiss woman who had been informed about Tsikalakis’ touching story decided to help him by buying him one acre of land in Kalo Horio. Nikos settled in his new home – actually, he lives in a tent with no electricity and no bathroom along with his 74 dogs.
He has built some fences on his own and all of his dogs live two to a kennel. The money he gets from the state – 200 euros per month, since he is unemployed – is spent on buying food for his beloved dogs and a handful of people help him sterilize and vaccinate the animals.

Vlasia Stathakopoulou, who practices criminal law in Piraeus and whose father is the reputable litigator Konstantinos Stathakopoulos, contacted The National Herald about Tsikalakis’ amazing story and asked for its help so that the Greek-American Community can learn about his daily endeavors and struggles.

Vlasia Stathakopoulou is the niece of Litsa Stathakopoulou, who lives in Florida and is very well known for her charitable work. Vlasia offers her legal services to Nikos Tsikalakis pro bono and she told TNH that, “I met Mr. Tsikalakis on Facebook just a little bit after the death of my beloved dog. I felt sorry for this war against him and I decided to stand by him. He has been kicked out of everywhere and he has been brutally slandered because of the fact that he reports animal cruelty to the authorities. His everyday struggle is remarkable. When I met him in person I realized that he is a highly civilized person. He works 15 hours a day and I mean hard manual work. He constructs and fixes everything on his own, doghouses, fences, and whatever is needed. I myself prepared all the legal papers so that his shelter could become a legal entity. The shelter is now a nonprofit organization and it has a Tax ID Number, so anyone who needs a receipt could get it once they make their donation. I would love for the Greek People who live in the United States to get to know Nikos Tsikalakis. He is worthy of their attention.”

TNH contacted Nikos Tsikalakis, who told us, “it all began when I saw a wounded stray dog that was totally unprotected and needed surgery, so I took it home and pampered it. No one deals with stray animals here. I now have 74 dogs and it has been five years since I decided to devote my life to an idea for a better world. All the dogs have their own wooden doghouses; they are all vaccinated and sterilized.”

Tsikalakis also said, “I have not left the shelter since I got here. Not even for an hour. I live inside a tent next to them but I honestly do not mind. I only care for them; the shelter needs better facilities and financial support. Whoever would like to be a godparent for one of the dogs, it would be very helpful for their monthly food. Things in Kalo Horio are much better than in Christos, though there were some shepherds that came by and threatened me, so I had to go to the police and file a lawsuit and they stopped bothering me once I did that.”

When asked how people can help financially, he said, “anyone who would like to help can visit our Facebook page Bronx Familia Animal Shelter Hersonissos Crete and click on the donate button of the page. For those who wish to donate, they need to have a paypal account in order to do so. The paypal account of our Nonprofit Organization is diegolovenik@gmail.com.”

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