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Helping man's best friend: How rescuers are saving animals from Europe's wildfires

A dog gazes out of a car window, as a wildfire blazes on in the background
A dog gazes out of a car window, as a wildfire blazes on in the background Copyright Achilleas Chiras/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Achilleas Chiras/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AFP
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This is how European rescue workers are trying to save the animals affected by the continents' devastating wildfires.

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As southern Europe grapples with wildfires caused by the intense heat, some of its smallest victims need an extra pair of hands to escape the blaze. 

In many of the regions most affected, rescue teams are working tirelessly to help save both human and animal lives, both domestic and wild, 

In Greece, where the wildfires have been ongoing, animals in the Ano Liosia district were rescued by volunteers. Dogs, cats, and even turtles were among the creatures saved. 

Many stayed behind while their owners were evacuated or fled in a hurry from the flames. Most would be dead without human intervention.

Similar scenes in Tenerife

In Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, rescue teams created shelters for animals affected by evacuations. Owners and pets share a space specially adapted for their needs.

Some pet owners help with the other animals at the shelter, giving them water and food and taking them on walks. The animals are allowed to stay with their families in the space provided. 

Many owners say that they had to leave their homes without being able to take anything with them and that they appreciate any help that they receive. 

But being tied down to a man's best friend all day can be exhausting. Volunteers know this and try to help however they can.

"When the dog owners need to go out, get some air, and they are not here, we walk the dogs and they disconnect from being locked up here 24 hours a day," explained Andres Hernandez, a volunteer at the shelter.

Wildfires still active

The battle to control Europe's wildfires goes on.  

In Athens, over 60 fires have erupted in the past 24 hours, and six countries were sending help via the European Union's civil protection mechanism, the fire department said, amid a dangerous mix of gale-force winds and temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius.

The fires in the Canary Islands meanwhile were started deliberately, according to regional President Fernando Clavijo on Sunday. 

Clavijo said police had opened three lines of investigation but did not say if there had been any arrests. 12,000 people needed evacuation from their homes in Tenerife alone.

The islands have recorded below-average rainfall in recent years because of changing weather patterns impacted by climate change.

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