Volunteering at the Gouves Animal Shelter in Crete

As long as it takes to eat a Greek salad
Animal lovers can add another dimension to their holidays in Crete by supporting the work of the Gouves Shelter in Heraklion and helping to give hundreds of stray cats and dogs a new chance in life.

Located around 18km (20 minutes by car) from Heraklion city centre, the Gouves Animal Shelter has an inspiring background of providing shelter and protection to strays for over 16 years. They support more than 500 cats and dogs in the shelter and (for the most vulnerable animals) in the homes of volunteers each year. They also do an important job pushing for changes to animal welfare laws and finding homes for animals in Greece and abroad.

As a Greek non-profit organisation, they are funded entirely by private donations and staffed exclusively by volunteers, and encourage people on holiday in Crete to visit the shelter and even volunteer.

Get to know Gouves Animal Shelter

The facilities at the Gouves Shelter include 50 large and 20 smaller kennels that provide shade in the hot summer sun and protection to dogs, as well as a selection of smaller kennels and a dedicated puppy area.

Most of the cats live in feeding areas around the shelter, as well as in “cat kennels” with climbing surfaces, beds and toys. There is also a Sick Room for recovering or ill animals and a fenced play area where dogs can run free with other dogs – an invaluable space during winter months when there are no volunteering visitors on holiday in Crete to take the dogs for walks.

The shelter also runs neutering and education programs to help encourage improvements to the animal welfare laws and the attitudes of the people. They have helped find homes for thousands of animals. In 2023 alone, the Gouves Animal Shelter helped complete 600 animal adoptions.

How you can help

As well as volunteering, you can donate to the Gouves Animal Shelter and become a member of the Gouves Club (receiving the Paws for Thought online magazine and private access to the Facebook group).

Volunteers (including children) are welcome to visit and play with the dogs or take them for walks, as well as help out around the shelter.

Visitors are encouraged to share any photos and videos they’ve taken with their mobile phones or digital cameras and share them with the shelter for their use. They can also contribute content for the magazine or the Gouves Animal Shelter social media once they’re home.

Volunteering at the Gouves Shelter in Crete

Giving a bit of love to the strays of the Gouves Animal Shelter in Heraklion is your chance to add to the selfless work of the volunteers who run the shelter year round, rain or shine, and show the way for other visitors to Crete to follow in your footsteps.

Learn more about the Gouves Shelter

Gouves Animal Shelter
Gouves Animal Shelter

Gouves Animal Shelter provides care and protection for stray and injured animals in Crete. The shelter was founded 2008 and since then we have had the privilege of helping thousands of cats and dogs. Our aim is to give the cats and dogs in our care a second chance at life, by providing food, shelter and medical care. During our first decade, we found homes for more than 4 000 dogs and have helped many, many more!

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