Shelter Fino Animal Rescue

‘Fino Animal Rescue’ dog shelter in Finokalia near Aghios Nikolaos.

'Finokalia Animal Help'
Thomas Illig of ‘Fino Animal Rescue’ with one of the shelter’s dogs.

Shelter Fino Animal rescue

Fino Animal Rescue is one of the largest animal shelters in the region of Aghios Nikolaos in Eastern Crete, with almost 100 dogs and puppies at present, although it was founded and built only recently.
It is located on the sparsely populated Aghios Ioannis peninsula at the village of Finokalia, in the triangle between Neapoli, Elounda and the beautiful provincial capital on the Gulf of Mirabello.

Due to the daily, close contact with their caretakers, almost all dogs are very sociable, friendly and playful. This is of course especially true for the numerous puppies.

The enclosures for each group of dogs, which are compatible with each other, have a spacious area under shady olive trees with numerous dog houses.
The fencing system is very professional and well-thought-out, so that the enclosures are once again enclosed by a fenced walkway, so that in the event that one or more dogs can accidentally slip through when the gate is opened, they will only find themselves in the walkway, which is again fenced off. Also, the large entrance gate still has a lock area so that no dog can run away from the shelter.

See also the following photos:


Puppy and dog video from Fino

Some of the playful and fun puppies from Fino Animal Rescue.

The friendly and playful puppies and dogs can be seen nicely in the following video from the shelter:

History of the shelter

This facility was planned and built to a large extent by the operator with his own hands. Thomas Illig was born on May 29, 1964 in Mannheim, Germany and had previously worked mainly in power plants. With his partner Brigitte Lazar, he first came to Crete in 2020 after the death of their dog ‘Cleo’ to adopt a dog from an animal shelter. In the process, they were also offered a small house to buy.

After witnessing the misery of the street dogs of Crete, the two decided to sell everything in Germany, buy a suitable plot of land of 3,800 m², with a cottage, to build an animal shelter. His partner Brigitte had previously been active in animal welfare for decades and had dogs from animal welfare herself.

 small house
The small house on the 3,800 m² property of Fino Animal Rescue is also inhabited by animals!

In Finokalia they found the right place to make the dream of their own shelter come true. On December 5, 2021, they arrived at night with their own pets.
By March 2022, they already had over twenty dogs and the number was growing very fast, as there are unfortunately a lot of abandoned puppies and dogs in Crete. With fifty dogs should actually already be an end, but the compassion was of course stronger.

Fences had to be built, and dog houses bought, and they were overwhelmed with the construction work alone. By the present time in June 2023, there are already 69 adult dogs and 19 puppies.

Norman at Fino Animal Rescue
Norman from BESTDOGS.NET visits the young dogs and puppies of Fino Animal Rescue.

The vision of the two was to help dogs. Now, however, they have to admit that at the beginning they were not all aware of the difficulties on the island of Crete, which seems beautiful for tourists, and they also lacked experience in setting up and running an animal shelter. This knowledge had to and still has to be bought dearly.

 visitor at the shelter
Thomas with a visitor at the shelter in front of the little house.

The winter of 2021-2022 was already terrible. When they first came to the house, a continuous rain had caused a five centimetre high water level in the house, and so they had to remove the water from the house first thing the very first night. Instead of completely renovating the house now, one of the rooms has become a cat room and the originally intended bedroom has become a recovery room for sick dogs. The living room with integrated kitchen has become a sleeping room for up to 20 dogs.
In the beginning, there was also neither own electricity connection nor a working wood stove for heating.

In addition, there were other problems, so the trouble with shepherds, which is unfortunately not so quite unusual in Crete. One of the shepherds in the neighbourhood seriously claimed that the dogs of the two had killed and eaten 100 sheep, and this was so presented in an online newspaper. So the police appeared at the shelter and asked Thomas to come with them to the police station in Neapoli. But there he was let go again, because the accusations of the shepherd were not provable and therefore irrelevant.

The transport of the large freight containers, which contained all of their belongings from Germany, was also not so easy over the narrow roads to the remote village and required special vehicles. Furthermore, there was the usual trouble at customs with the pick-up truck imported from Germany, which is of course needed in the lonely location to bring the large quantities of dog food from Heraklion or to bring animals to the vet in Aghios Nikolaos.

Fino Animal Rescue
Thomas together with some of the dogs on the veranda of the little cottage.

So they need all the support they can get to make their dream of an animal shelter come true. This is especially important because there are hardly any alternatives to ‘Fino Animal Rescue’ in the region of Aghios Nikolaos, Elounda and Neapoli.
Therefore, they urgently need donations of money for the care of the dogs and donations in kind such as blankets, toys, medicines against fleas, ticks and worms, and so on.
In addition, physical help from volunteers is urgently needed for the daily work as well as improvement work on the shelter and renovation work on the house.

First aid for dog
First aid of a slightly injured dog.

All dogs – especially the young puppies – should get a well protected new home in families who appreciate them and treat them well as a family member, so that they are away from chains, bad to no food and rotten to no water in the greatest heat!

Therefore, visitors who would like to adopt Cretan dogs or at least play with them once are most welcome (but please contact us first – see below). Volunteers are also needed who would like to help with the care of the animals or the expansion of the shelter. Donations of cash or food are also welcome!

Visitors at Finokalia Animal Help
Visitors from Finland at the shelter.

More photos from the shelter



Thomas Illig
Phone: ++30 697 003 5758
E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: Fino Animal Rescue

entrance to the Fino Animal Rescue
Thomas Illig in front of the entrance to the Fino Animal Rescue shelter.



Bank account:
Nationalbank of Greece
IBAN: GR7801104310000043100293356

Fino Animal Rescue
The sweet dogs and puppies of Fino Animal Rescue need food alone for just under €1,500 a month and are in urgent need of donations!

Bambi’ is looking for a Sponsorship!

The sweet dog BAMBI from FINO ANIMAL RESCUE urgently needs a godparent or even better an ADOPTION!
Watch the following video about the especially sweet dog:



grnback Link to Directions to Fino Animal Rescue.

Closer approach:
Drive from Neapoli via Amazonas Park to near the north coast through the village of Finokalia. From the direction via Elounda and Plaka turn already before the small village on the other side (see next photo).

Place name sign of Finokalia.

At the other end of the village, turn into this small side road:

Fino Animal Help
Sideway to Fino Animal Help.

Continue straight on until you reach the first house on the left opposite the small church, which cannot be overlooked because of the three prominently parked containers.

Finokalia Animal Help Shelter
Fino Animal Rescue Shelter.

Link to Google Maps: Location of ‘Fino Animal Rescue’ opposite the ‘little old church’

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