2015: How the idea of Zero Stray Pawject was born
Zero Stray Pawject’s co-founder Silja rescued four dogs during her business and personal travels in 2015. She got stray dogs off the street into safety and worked with local shelters and fosters for temporary housing, returned to the locations after finding a loving family and transported each dog herself by plane into their new homes. She stays in touch with each family. During thοse rescue missions, Silja had the chance to speak with local shelters and fosters about their daily struggle to save stray and abandoned dogs. After this experience Silja and Theo decided to create a more systematic solution, which can help hundreds, thousands, and maybe more dogs worldwide.
Summer – November 2015: Collaboration with local animal lover Lemonia
With 1 million abandoned dogs in a country of 10 million people, Greece has an outsized stray dog population in both absolute and relative terms. Silja and Theo traveled to Mykonos, Greece, in the summer of 2015 and became aware of the poor conditions under which rescued dogs were housed in Mykonos. In November they returned and started a partnership with a local animal lover and hotel owner called Lemonia to help build Zero Stray Pawject’s first fostering facility.
Feb 2016: The first dogs move into Tigani
Zero Stray Pawject’s Fostering facility made good progress. Half of our dogs moved to Tigani. Tigani is not a shelter but a private super-foster facility, affectionally called “Lemonia’s Garden”. The dogs are housed on private property, leased by Lemonia and every dog is legally owned by Lemonia (all dogs are chipped and registered to Lemonia on Greece’s Ministry of Agriculture pet ownership database). The dogs live according to “the bill of rights”, which provides even tougher and more specific guidelines for housing dogs than the Greek animal welfare law does.
Note: Zero Stray Pawject supports foster families and foster facilities owned by private people who are trying against all odds to help stray dogs, where municipalities ignore the problem despite their legal obligation to collect strays and shelter them.
Feb 14 2016: Official Launch of Zero Stray Pawject
Stray Pawject launched, starting with a focus on Mykonos, Greece. ZSP’s Website went live that day, providing background on its mission, the “bill of rights”, its dogs, success stories and content why strays are ending up on the street, why adopting is better than buying and how every responsible citizen can help. The objectives of the website are to get as many of the dogs sponsored and eventually adopted as well as to raise awareness.
Feb 27 2016: Early successes
2 weeks after launch and with a targeted marketing approach to friends and family, Zero Stray Pawject managed to attract 20 sponsors. Each sponsor chose a dog from the website and agreed to provide their dog with financial stability (filling their daily food bowl, providing clean water daily, providing their dog with basic tick-flee prevention and paying for keeping their dog’s living area clean).
March 9 2016: Zero Stray Pawject’s first adoption from Mykonos
Through their website, ZSP managed to get “Prince” adopted into a family in Thessaloniki. Prince and his family are since very happy together and Prince loves to play with the family’s other dog and 2 cats!
March 14 2016: Founding summit of Zero Stray Pawject Germany e.V.
Founding summit of Zero Stray Pawject Germany in Berlin, a German tax exempt legal nonprofit association. Signing of Nonprofit legal papers to be registered into the German “Handelsregister” (trade registry) as an ‘eingetragener Verein (e.V.)’, which is the legal form of a Nonprofit entity in Germany. This provides tax benefits to sponsors and donors in Germany. Registry will be approved by German governmental bodies within a timeframe of 4-6 months.
March 15 – 19 2016: Zero Stray Pawject traveled to Mykonos for inspection
Zero Stray Pawject traveled to Mykonos to inspect the foster facility’s progress and invited an experienced dog trainer to evaluate the dogs.
April 6 2016: US and German bank account set up
April 7 2016: Zero Stray Pawject is 501(c)3 certified
Zero Stray Pawject is now a 501(c)3 tax exempt Nonprofit organization, as certified by the US Internal Revenue Service, providing donors and sponsors in the US with tax benefits.
April 16 2016: Official launch of Zero Stray Pawject's Facebook Page
Follow us on Facebook and give us your feedback what you like to see more of Zero Stray Pawject. We will bring you the latest news in real time and stay connected with you.
April 21 2016: PayPal set up on Zero Stray Pawject's Facebook page and website
This allows everybody who wants to help, to send their donation easily to Zero Stray Pawject and either become a monthly sponsor or contribute with a one-off donation.
May 2016: The rest of our dogs move into the new private foster facility
The rest of our dogs move to our new private foster facility, where they are living according to "The Bill of Rights", without chains, stress-free, paired according to temperament, with lots of space.
June 30 2016: Zero Stray Pawject Germany e.V. non-profit registered into the German trade registry
On June 30th 2016 we have reached a milestone: Zero Stray Pawject Germany e.V. got registered in the German trade registry („Handelsregister“) as German non-profit company, headquartered in Berlin, delivering tax benefits to German donors. Zero Stray Pawject Germany e.V. is a sister company of Zero Stray Pawject Inc, a 501(c)3 US non-profit entity, headquartered in New York City.
August 11th 2016: Amazon approves Zero Stray Pawject as qualified charity and pays 0.5% of every purchase for people signing up to Zero Stray Pawject on Amazon Smile
Amazon approved Zero Stray Pawject as qualified charity. If you sign up for Amazon Smile, Amazon will pay 0.5% of every of your future purchase to Zero Stray Pawject. So next time you buy from Amazon, go to Amazon Smile, select Zero Stray Pawject as your charity (click on the picture below, which will get you to the right landing page for signing up). Afterwards, whenever you buy anything on Amazon Smile, you are supporting Zero Stray Pawject with your purchase and help to save many more dogs' lives! What a great way of helping !!!
August 22nd - September 4th 2016: Zero Stray Pawject visits the private rescue center in Mykonos
The two founders visited the private rescue center in Mykonos for two weeks and invited many people to the private rescue facility. Every day, a different dog was walked at the beach of Mykonos with an "adopt-me" vest on. we also started to have regular volunteers visiting the private facility in Mykonos who pet, play and walk the dogs and help to get the dogs adopted. The founders fly to Mykonos every three months to help.
October 2nd: Zero Stray Pawject is now on INSTAGRAM
Follow us on Instagram/zero_stray_pawject and get latest news about our dogs.
December 6th 2016: First "press coverage" with The Dodo featuring Star's adoption Live.
"Star" the Greek goddess who conquered many hearts. She was discovered by an animal lover from Thessaloniki many years ago, when she endured a life on a chain at a Mykonian hotel and car rental. According to eye witnesses, she even had to give birth on the chain and was probably later on abandoned. She was then picked up by the hoarder and later on rescued by Zero Stray Pawject. Star never lost her spirit and the founders brought her to New York to find her with a home. Soon after Star was adopted by Pam in PA. With such a sad history, The Dodo got intrigued and filmed her adoption LIVE.
December 2016 - Year End Message
As the year of 2016 comes to an end, we are looking back, exhausted, happy and fulfilled of what we have achieved WITH YOUR SUPPORT and would summarize 2016 as: “wow, what a year”! There are so many people to thank, that we don’t know where to start. But we know one thing, with YOUR support, within only 10 ½ months after founding Zero Stray Pawject Inc, we have :
1. Helped build the first ever private dog rescue center on the island of Mykonos
2. Rescued 45 dogs from a makeshift shelter that provided terrible conditions
3. Drafted rules that ensured the well-being of dogs in a rescue center and codified them under the "Bill of Rights"
4. Incorporated in the US and Germany as non-profit corporations
5. Found homes - after carefully vetting families - in Greece and the US for six dogs and have two more dogs reserved for adoption.
6. Established a sponsorship program whereby generous sponsors pay $60/€50 per month to help alleviate the costs of their chosen dogs. At the end of 2016, Zero Stray Pawject had sponsors for 28 dogs. We also received donations in kind. The most notable was from Purina Greece that donated almost 500kg of food.
7. Instituted a volunteer program and during 2016 had two local volunteers who were helping the dogs on a consistent basis.
With all those good news, we left Mykonos and the dogs in the hands of the local shelter manager as of January 3rd 2017.
A new location has been added. ZSP is evolving.
April 2017 - ZSP and Aegina’s shelter have formally partnered to save dogs’ lives and get the island to a sustained “Zero Stray Dog Status”
Aegina is an island just a short 45-minute boat ride from Athens. Each year 200-400 dogs are abandoned. This is beyond the capacity of the shelter. As a result, many remain on the streets. Aegina's shelter is one of the best managed in Greece. It hosts over 100 dogs and finds “forever families” for about as many each year, in part thanks to a wonderful alliance with the German-based “Aegean Dogs” charity.
A shelter with a high adoption rate, is only half the solution to make stray dogs in Aegina a thing of the past. The other half is working with local authorities to eradicate irresponsible dog ownership, the root cause of stays. We are already in the planning stages with the municipality. In the coming weeks we hope to launch targeted programs working hand-in-hand with their team!
May 6-7th 2017 - ZSP attends the "Thinking Animals United" summit in NYC
Our philosophy is that when animal welfare organisations are working together, they can achieve much more and have higher impact. That is the reason why Zero Stray Pawject's co-founder Silja attended the "Thinking Animals United" summit in New York to meet like-minded large animal welfare organizations, such as the IFAW, WWF and others. Although the focus was very much on wild animals and large economic, health and even terrorist threats for the global economy related to animal welfare, stray dogs is a topic close to many organizations' heart. We hope that some of the ties we have built will lead to a larger impact for stray dogs in Greece.