OCEANSIDE — Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a prolific writer whose credits include National Geographic Traveler, Mother Jones magazine and NBC’s Petside.com.
She has also published 17 novels.
Her favorite subject, hands down, is man’s best friend.
Makris’ 2007 handbook, “Everything You Need to Know about Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need,” written with Shelley Frost, has become a “must-read” for dog rescuers.
Over the past 12 years Makris and husband Gavin Bowlby have rescued, fostered and re-homed about 100 dogs in the United States and another 30 in Greece.
Makris says she inherited her compassion from her grandmother, Stella Lorenzatos Makris, who emigrated from the Greek island of Kefalonia around 1916.
“She always said we should put ourselves in the place of others, and think about how what we do, and don’t do, affects them,” she said.
Makris’ rescue missions began after 2006 when she traveled to Kefalonia to bring back her elderly aunt and uncle, whose mental health was deteriorating. Makris inherited the family home, which was also in decline.
“There’s always a silver lining,” she wrote in her blog. “In this case, it’s a furry lining. If we hadn’t owned this house during the past five years, 20 thrown-away little souls would have met unpleasant and untimely ends.”
Since traveling back and forth to Kefalonia for almost a year, Makris has rescued two more dogs.
“On the day after Christmas I saw Kali Amanda (meaning “good” in Greek, and “Amanda” after a veterinarian), a young yellow Lab-mix limping and shivering in the street between the archaeological museum and the courthouse was trying to charm her way into a pack of other street dogs who hung out there,” Makris said. “I had been feeding the others, and felt horrible for them because this was one of the worst winters on record. Because of her injury, I couldn’t leave her there.”
After caring for Kali Amanda, Makris transported her and another rescue, Diamandi (meaning “diamond”), to Copenhagen through the rescue group, Graeske Hunde (Greek dog).
“We do not save these dogs alone,” she wants people to know. “Others include Kefalonia Animals Trust (KAT), Greece; Claudia Stellatou, Kefalonia, Greece; Peter Cherrington, United Kingdom; Praying for Paws, Atlanta , Ga.; Barbara and Michael O’Connor, Eugene, Ore.; Rita Martinez, Northern California Vizsla Rescue; and Shelley Frost, Belmont, Calif.”
Makris is sometimes asked why she puts so much work into helping strays outside the United States when the need is so great here.
“When you see a creature in trouble, human or animal, you don’t look up to see which flag is flying,” she said. “If you can do something to help, you do it. That said, these days I try to place dogs in countries where the pet homelessness problem is not as horrendous as what we face in the U.S.”
Lorraine and Marco Navarro of Seal Beach adopted Corelli, an 18-month Viszla-mix, who was dumped and left to fend for himself after breeders determined that he wasn’t a pure-bred.
Makris restored him to health and made arrangements to transport him to California.
Lorraine Navarro responded to an ad through a Viszla rescue group and gave permission to Makris to make a home inspection. Later the Navarros picked up Corelli at Makris’ home.
“Katerina prepared Greek food, lovely fruit and we took walks with Corelli,” she said. “After an easy family vote, we brought him home that day, on Mother’s Day. Katerina and Gavin cried as we drove away.”
She added, “Katerina is a rare gem of a person: kind, gentle, intelligent, funny and unbelievably generous. A completely authentic person.”
This week, Makris is launching another ambitious effort, an online investigative magazine titled Animal Issues Reporter.
“AIR’s mission is to provide professional journalism about animal issues — solid, probing and ongoing coverage by top-notch and well-informed reporters,” she said. “We also hope to mentor the next generation for a groundbreaking new era of animal journalism.
“Around the world, the lives of many animals are nightmares. More public awareness is one way to improve that.”
For more information, visit animalissuesreporter.org or dozendogdiaries.blogspot.gr. Makris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org . To donate money to help starving and diseased strays in Greece visit http://fadasmataaspropirgou.chipin.com.