Animals Offbeat

By Mikey Jones

These shocking photos show scenic Game of Thrones set locations overrun by stray dogs and cats.

The images were taken in Meteora, Greece, a UNESCO world heritage site, where ancient monasteries perch upon 600-metre rock columns.

PIC FROM Frederick Johnson/Caters News

Game of Thrones fans will recognise the area’s scenery as the backdrop for the Eyrie, the seat of House Arryn and the Lord of the Vale.

One of the six monasteries, Holy Trinity, was also used for the final clash in the James bond classic For Your Eyes Only, where Roger Moore’s 007 takes on Greek Smugglers and the KGB to stop secret British technology falling into Russian hands.

Photographer Frederick Johnson, 32, from Lincolnshire, travelled to Greece to capture the breathtaking views last month but was shocked by the sad reality of the hundreds of homeless animals wandering the location.

Greece’s financial crisis has left many cats and dogs without a home, surviving only by being fed by tourists.

PIC FROM Frederick Johnson/Caters News

Frederick said: “Unloved former pets roam the mountainsides of Meteora and this hugely popular tourist spot is not home to a large number of animals left to fend for themselves.

“There are numerous cats and dogs roaming around the car parks outside all of the monasteries, some in a bad way rom fighting or a lack of veterinary care.

“The animals actually appear to be well fed as tourists feed them leftovers and locals put out food for them.

“However, winter is coming and the temperatures here – on the edge of the mountains – will drop below freezing, with snow almost certain.

“I fear for what will happen to these poor things.”

PIC FROM Frederick Johnson/Caters News

Frederick first travelled by train to the city of Kalambaka, where he noticed many strays in the fields and close to monasteries where tourists usually gather, before going on to Meteora.

He said the region is also said to be home to wolves and wild boars, adding further peril to the stray animals’ plight.

Frederick said: “My immediate impression of Meteora was of surprise at the immense natural beauty, purely because I had seen so many photos of the area.  only to find that not a single one began to do it justice.

“But I spoke to locals who talked in depth about the Greek financial crisis. One lady mentioned that the people who managed best were those who had gardens to grow their own food, so the people in the cities found times very hard.

PIC FROM Frederick Johnson/Caters News

“This really put things into perspective – from an outside point of view, it might seem very cruel to abandon an animal, but perhaps if it came to a choice between feeding your family or your pet, you might be forced to make a hard decision.

“The animals themselves were largely sociable, though some of the younger cats were quite skittish and wary.

“One dog with a bloodied ear walked with me for miles. I had stayed out to photograph sunset, and by then there was only he and I left in the Varlaam monastery car park.

“As the light disappeared I found myself walking back down the long, winding mountain road in the dark towards the town, the dog trotted alongside me and I was glad of his company, as several people had mentioned the boars and wolves in the area.

“On several occasions, he stopped and waited for me to catch up, before eventually meeting some other dogs, who all seemed to know each other, in the village of Kastraki.”