domingo, 3 de novembro de 2013

A photo story about ICAWC 2013 – Part I

As you maybe well know, in an organization that helps abandoned dogs there are only a few volunteers, 8, 10, ok, maybe 15, but that’s it! Now, imagine being between three hundred people with the same spirit! A dream? No, pure reality! It happened in Barcelona, Spain, between 14th and 16th of October, on a conference organized by the British Dogs Trust Organization, the so called International Companion Animal Welfare Conference (ICAWC), edition 2013, where I had the great opportunity to participate with great help of my Swedish and Norwegian friends. There, I learned a lot about our four legged buddies, made many contacts, talked to many interesting people, facts that will help me a lot to treat the best way possible our dogs in the kennel, and, why not saying this, it’ll give me more motivation to continue with this hard job.

This conference was divided in three parts. On Monday the 14th we could visit a shelter. The choice was the official Barcelona city shelter, the so called CAAC. At the afternoon, very interesting workshops at the Alimara Hotel, local of the conference itself. Tuesday and Wednesday, the conference, with lots of speakers, about 30 in total. There, I didn’t stop writing, made many notes which I “translated” later in readable words.

The shelter is 4km away from Barcelona, situated in the hills in the West of this Catalan city. From the outside it looks big, very secure and got guards at fulltime.

Many volunteers are walking the dogs on an own path for this purpose. Look at the ground behind the board on the path, doesn’t it look like a dog?

Inside the kennel we could see the reason why so many people are walking the dogs. The boxes are very small, so the dogs have to go out, if not, they would go crazy. But, ok, you can’t have everything!

The cattery is big and well done, they have a great look to the outside and over the city.

Like in every place like this, there are innumerous announcements for lost and found dogs and cats.

This kennel got their own clinic where vets (paid by the city) do all kind of surgeries, mostly sterilizations, of course.

Hey! Let me out of here! I’m a dog and don’t like to be left with all that cats!!

To be continued.

domingo, 18 de agosto de 2013

A newspaper article about our kennel – “The daily struggle of Cantinho dos Animais”

The biggest newspaper of our region, Diário do Alentejo, wrote a 2 paged article about our association Cantinho dos Animais de Beja. It’s a pretty good picture about how we are doing in times like this. Just hope that my translation is readable. They also took many photos which are already at my facebook page; they also made a video clip, but it isn’t online yet. Unfortunately I couldn’t upload the pictures to the blog, don’t know why. Please look at them in the original article, the link is down below.
The “Cantinho dos Animais” in Beja, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 with the mission to help abandoned, lost, mistreated and unwanted animals got currently about 110 dogs in their kennel and another 15 in temporary foster families. It’s a large number with tendency to increase in the month of summer holidays, but it has remained more or less stable due of the adoptions. Between 35 and 40% are adopted in Sweden, Germany and Italy. Rodinhas, Trevo, Ollie and Paloma are next to move on.
After 2 years of living in the kennel and after a failed adoption, Rodinhas, a middle sized and lazy looking dog, goes next 31th of August to Sweden where a new family is waiting for him. The brothers Ollie and Trevo, 2 dogs with 1 year of age which were abandoned with only a few month of living, will also follow Rodinhas to that northern country. This is just an example of stories with a happy end that allows the association to keep a more or less stable number of “inhabitants” in the last years, but the numbers are still high. There’s a more or less balance between incoming and outgoing dogs. Although there are many animals that are abandoned and we collect them, we also have fortunately many adoptions, says the president. The adoptions do Sweden, Germany and Italy represents about 35 to 40% of all adoptions. They are made through associations in those countries who are collaborating with us for years. The animals adopted in Portugal are it normally in the Beja area. In total, last year we gave away for adoption more then 130 animals. The “Cantinho dos Animais de Beja” is installed in a city space, provided by the council, and has currently about 110 dogs in their kennel and another 15 in temporary foster families. The ideal should be 75 animals say Ana Monteiro, and despite of that high number, normally it increases in the summer month. The young president ensures that the animals are comfortable: I’d say we got more animals then we wish to keep them with acceptable quality, but it’s also a number we couldn’t say that they are not comfortable. The last two month we found many small dogs in Beja, and we received many requests for help. She thinks that this increasing number has two reasons: the summer holidays and the economic crises of the families. Summer is always the time people forget to find a solution for their pets when they go away for holidays, and also, the crisis Portugal is going through ... I know there are people who do everything they can to keep their pets. Sometimes we are helping those owners, within our possibilities, with dog food or vet care. But we also got help. There’s a supermarket in Beja (Intermarché) which provides us with dog food they can’t sell anymore, like damaged dog food bags – and we also give for 2 or 3 families’ dog food for their pets. We have little, but some people have even less.
Dogs are thrown over the kennel gate
Most animals are found at the streets of Beja and in the district, abandoned, sometimes by our own volunteers. Some are left tied up on the fence of the old city kennel next to ours, or even thrown over that fence or our main gate. But we also got cases where a dog owner asks us to keep their animal (to abandon an animal is a crime in Portugal) for the most different reasons, a way more acceptable then simply leave them on the streets. In that last case, if it’s not an absolute urgent matter, we ask the owners to keep their animal for a while, and we try to find a new owner during that time. Others want to give them away because they are old or ill thinking we can do euthanasia. The truth is we are fighting every day to help who ain’t got anybody, but sometimes there’s no other solution, we have to accept the animal, because our main priority are the animals who got nobody, or are insured, very skinny or full of parasites. Those cannot be refused in any way. And lately there are so many serious cases that have arisen, which increases significantly our expenses – on average we spend monthly 800€ for food and 1000 to 2000€ for vet cares, like vaccinations, sterilizations, chirurgical operations and medications. We have several complicated cases, and currently we got 3 big bills to pay for 3 dogs: Estrelinha (little star) is in a special clinic in Lisbon, has her little head fractured, the bill will be about 6 to 700€. Nico, a hunting dog, a very complicated case, went to several clinics, but nobody could find the real reason for his big weakness, so, we had no other choice if not to put him asleep. Another is Simanito, he was about 1 year in our kennel, and suddenly he started to behave strangely, ones it was a front leg he couldn’t put on the ground, then a back leg; he also went to Lisbon, also nobody could find the real reason, but in this case, he’s getting better and is now in a foster family in Beja.
Facebook to ask for donations
In these most problematic cases, facebook reveals to be a big help. We choose to make petitions for concrete cases, putting photos of the animal and the vet bills. In that way, people give more money because they know for what they are donating. It’s easier then to ask for money for the association in general, says the president. For example, Estrelinha got her own facebook page – Ajuda para a Estrelinha – (help for Estrelinha) with updates about her health. Through facebook, the association also gets new owners for the dogs at the kennel and temporary foster families for animals who needs special treatment after an operation, for example. We are also developing campaigns to collect donations, dog food and adoptions at commercial places and at the Ovibeja (the biggest fair in the south of Portugal) in Beja( if we got sufficient volunteers for that); we also organize a competition at the world animal day (4th of October, or the first Saturday after) only with non breed dogs, a very funny thing to do. As a association we are, we have about 550 associates who are paying 20€ a year, or more, if they want to; we got about 30 godfathers (or mothers) who sponsors a specific dog; we have a kind of a on-line store where people can buy little stuff with dog (and cat) pictures on it, like purses, bags and so on, and, most recently, a big tomato producer gives us a part of their profit every time they sell a specific product. We also have protocols with some vet clinics, a pharmacy and a store who sells products for pets. With this, we obtain some deduction on their charges. There are many ideas for how to get donations, but there are not enough volunteers for that. Our biggest problem is to have enough money for our monthly expenses, we want, and we try to save all animals, she complains.
Responsible adoption
Young and small dogs are the most wanted dogs in our kennel, because people think that these kinds of animals are easier to educate. This is just wrong, she says, an adult dog is just as much educable as a young dog, since he got proper training. And, it’s not easy to keep a young dog, not everybody have the patience for a youngster. Some new owners devolve a recent adopted dog because he spoiled something, barks too much or is pissing on everything; they got no clue about the responsibility to have a puppy. Bigger dogs are sometimes chosen for farms as a guardian animal, middle sized and older animals are those who last longer in our kennel, but, in no way, they are lost cases! says Ana Monteiro, we have dogs we know they are hard to adopt but in no way they are killed for that, we also had blind dogs who found a new home. We know it’s difficult, but we never give up hope. Not a long time ago was adopted a 14 years old dog which made us very happy. He might not live much longer but will have a great life until the end comes. The adoption process in the organization begins with filling in a questionnaire where it’s asked about the conditions for a dog in this possible future family. After an adoption, normally the dog is visited from time to time to see how this adoption is going on. There were cases we had to get the dog, but these cases are very rare. They just don’t give the dog time enough to adapt himself, so, we have to act. Each new owner knows that in case of bad adaption of a dog in his new home he can be devolved. It’s not a bad thing, it just can happen. And, the president gives some advices for possible new owners: first of all, you have to think strait if you want a dog, and the whole family too. Then you have to know that a dog may live for many years, and, you have to have a solution for him when you go for holidays, for example. And also, you need to know if you got enough money for him, food and vet care are not cheap.
Volunteers needed
The association counts nowadays with about 15 active volunteers which are divided at the several tasks like feeding the dogs and cleaning of the kennel, giving medication, taking dogs to the vet, bringing abandoned dogs in, management of the facebook page and the associated, trying to get new owners, participation and organization of donation events and production of products for sale. Carlos Maia is the oldest volunteer in the house, 13 years he is helping dogs. What made me volunteer is my passion for animals, he says, and what shocks him most is seeing tied up animals at the fence near our shelter and to have to take them to a vet, mostly when they are in very bad conditions. I’m here for 13 years and have seen many things. It’s a never ending struggle. I have thought about giving up, but I’m just addicted to this. The german Siegfried Kraus, living in Beja for over 30 years, is in the organization for over 10, says that he is in it through another volunteer. You are starting, he says, and after a while, you are doing things for the dogs, and then, you just can’t go out. He’s sorry about the indifference of people for dogs, for wanting to give them away because they are old or nor capable for this or that. For somebody like me, what is most shocking is people treat dogs like things with no value. Beside this, he thinks that the dog situation in Portugal is getting better because this matter is often said on tv, facebook and at school. Things are getting better, but the situation is not perfect yet. There are still animals mistreated and abandoned. Once we had more volunteers, says Ana Monteiro, but they give up for personal reasons, or are students who have finished their studies in Beja. So, she leaves an appeal: we do not only need donations, but also more volunteers, even if they can give only a small contribution of their time, or, simply accept an animal as a foster family.
You can find the original article here:
And, last but not least, an opinion of the director of the newspaper, left in the same edition:
Nearly 40% of the abandoned dogs who reached the kennel of Cantinho dos Animais in Beja are getting adopted to Sweden, Germany and Italy. This fact makes the effort of the volunteers in that nonprofit and without big resources working association even bigger. We cannot compliment and support those people enough.

domingo, 30 de junho de 2013

Dog of the Week 6 - Gás

A very beautiful Lady named Gás is the Dog of the Week this time. You may wonder about the name we gave her, and you’re right. Gás in Portuguese means quite the same as in English, gas, but the bottled one (not gasoline) for domestic and industrial use, like butane or propane. She came from a warehouse of that kind of gas, and they asked us if we could sterilize her because she was pregnant. At that time we had a sterilize campaign going on and so it was done. After that, we felt pity about her and kept her because that warehouse didn’t offer the best conditions for dogs, and beyond that, she was already the second dog coming to us from that place.
This was 2 years ago and today she’s still in our kennel. Many volunteers wonder why she is so shy, so slow and lethargic. They took her to a vet and nothing was found. My guess is that she’s bored and maybe a little depressed, because every time I play with her she transforms herself! Then she turns out to be a very intelligent and kind dog, but of course, we don’t have much time for each and every one of the over 110 dogs we got in our custody.
Does anyone of you want to help her getting out of this mood? We think she’s about 6 or 7 years old and really has to find a new family.

domingo, 2 de junho de 2013

Dog of the Week 5 - Maxi

This weekend I present you Maxi. On the contrary you might think, it’s a little doggie, but maxi at all the rest! Very sociable, very good with other dogs and very beautiful as you can see on this small video.

He was found by me a view week ago nearby my office. Many dogs are passing by this place, and first I thought it’s just one more ... but no, he appeared again for several days, first only at night, then most time of the day. I started to give him food to gain his confidence and then he let me take him with me.
Today he appears to be one of the nicest dogs who ever passed by our kennel. I hope it’s just really a ‘passing by thing’, he must find a new home, he deserves it.

domingo, 5 de maio de 2013

Dog of the Week 4 - Penilha

This weekend I present you our Penilha:

He lived for years on the streets of Beja, never harmed anyone, had many friends who treated and feed him. Ones he had a skin illness and a group of those friends asked us for help, so we did. They gathered money with a petition in a school and we took him several times to the vet, bringing him back each time to his favorite place. Cured, everything seemed alright until a real stupid guy burned his legs with boiling water! So, the best way was to put him into our shelter. There, he revealed himself as a real intelligent dog, very kind to human and other animals. And, we found out about another “quality” of his ... a rat hunter! He’s really good at this.
Now he is about 1 year in our shelter, had already some people interested in adopting him, but nothing on concrete yet. So, he’s still waiting for a real family...

Penilha sunbathing :-)

quarta-feira, 24 de abril de 2013


Each year, our city of Beja organize a big event, a exhibition of all kind of things our region offers and produces, but also from other regions Portugal’s and even from Spain. And each year this event called OviBeja is visited by tens of thousand of people (yes, you read right) and of course, our association has to be a part of it. Fortunately, the organization let us participate for free, and we take this opportunity with both hands!

To have a proper visibility and success we have our own space where we sell some stuff like t-shirts, little purses, key holder or books, everything with animal pictures, of course. But, our main attractions are the dogs! Each day we took two different doggies there for three reasons: first, to let them see and feel other things and not only the coldness of the shelter; second, to give them a chance to get adopted; and last but not least, to be a sort of inveiglement for people to put some coins in the moneybox existing on top of one of the cages.

At the photo you can see two of our volunteers, Paula and Sandra, who took care of our space the first hours at this first day. The doggies are Fofinha (means very soft) and Zorrinho (little Zorro), they always want to get out for a walk ... and we do what they want ... because we never know when they’ll get out of the shelter the next time.
OviBeja ends on Sunday and we really hope to give some animals for adoption and make much money in this box and by selling’s, ‘cause as you best know, keeping such a shelter of ours is not cheep at all!

quinta-feira, 11 de abril de 2013

A very especial visit

Today our shelter received a very especial visit. 2 school classes of 5º and 6º great came from Almodôvar (a village 60 km south of Beja) in a study visit with their teachers and some helping personnel. I must say, we are not used to receive children at this age in large numbers, but we gave all the support to them because it was a school action to inform those kids about the problem of abandoned dogs. I divided the 44 kids in 4 groups, and like this, the visit was much calmer.
Here, Paco had all the attention.

Each student contributed with 1€ for dog food, so they could buy 60kg for our dogs.

At the end, I went into their bus, and with the micro in my hand I answered dozens of questions they had. Hope they are now more aware about the abandoned dog problem. Thanks for the visit!

domingo, 31 de março de 2013

Dog of the Week 3 - Anne Frank

This dog of the week is a very special one. Maybe because of this we decided to call her Anne Frank, for being a survivor! She was found in Gabies town a few months ago in an almost unimaginable state. Half death, thin like a stick and full of wounds, because of a bad skin problem. She even ate the skin pustules! Horrible!
Of course, Gabi took her home and started to treat her. Then, we thought it would be better to take her for a few days in vet care. For that, we started a facebook petition to make some money for it. After this, she had to go several times to the vet again, taking bathes and proper medicine. But she wasn’t eating enough, and more tests revealed another illness! More medicine, more goings to the vet. Then, finally, she gained 8 kg in only 2 weeks and today she’s a normal and proud lady waiting for somebody to adopt her.

The first day when she was found

Finally cured!

I'm so happy now and even know how to smile :-)

domingo, 10 de março de 2013

Dog of the Week 2 - Ferreirinha

This week, the doggie I choose is ‘Ferreirinha’, for many reasons. First, because she’s a good example for showing us the will of being, or better, staying alive of an animal, and second, because she’s reeeally a veeery nice girl.
She came to us almost two years ago in an unimaginable state! Half dead, she could badly move, was full of injuries and weighted a bit more then 5kg. The diagnostic was very bad: anemia, Leismania and scabies. Her recover was amazing, she quickly gain weight with a help of many pills and, why not saying this, with a lot of love and care from all of us, especially from me. Today she’s still my best (doggie) friend, and was, in the first place, one of the reasons I go there every night to give medication to our ill dogs.
The reason of the name is because she was found in Ferreira do Alentejo (25km away from Beja). The name means little Ferreira, and she’s still waiting for a chance to get out of the shelter! We don’t think she still got Leish, for this we have to ask for a blood test, but they are too expensive for us. We have about 10 dogs in this state...

domingo, 3 de março de 2013

Dog of the Week 1 - Lord

Just like promised, here is our first “Dog of the Week”. His name is Lord, is about 2 years old and 28kg “light”, and veeery nice and sociable. He could easily fix in the category “best dog ever” and everybody’s asking: what does this dog in a kennel?
He was found by a volunteer of us a bit more then 1 year ago in a city garden, tied up with a cord on a public lamp and since then he’s in our shelter.
If somebody wants to adopt him just say so.

domingo, 24 de fevereiro de 2013

Our Shelter in Portugal - Part 3

This weekend it’s time to write about our association who runs the shelter. Like I said before, it all started with the concerns of some dog-loving people who wanted to stop the bitter end of some animals in the city shelter. Some time later, this punch of people felt the need to create an association, for many reasons, on top of all, to make this thing legal, to ask officially for money to help the dogs and, in the name of this association, to explain population about the crowing dog problems in our region.
All of this happened about 15 years ago, since then, hundreds of dogs passed through the shelter, many of them found the best end possible, to get adopted. Others unfortunately died there, but of natural causes, illness or age. But I also have to tell you that accident happens, that sometimes the fences between the boxes are getting weak, and ... the last 3 or 4 years this situations stopped because we are always aware for avoiding this!
There were times when our association and the city didn’t understand each other; the worst thing what happened was that the official city vet got the order to kill many of our dogs, healthy or not, old or not, but we arrived in time to stop this, unfortunately it was too late for a dozen of them! This of course started a war between the parts, they even wanted to throw us out of there, but with many meetings and good sense the good understanding returned, and nowadays it’s better then ever, the best example is that they agreed for me to work there!
Many people passed through the organization, dozens of volunteers made things alright. Sure, like in all kind of groups like this, there are misunderstandings, maybe the first reason is that they are mostly women, mostly young at age, and they sometimes forget that there’s a bigger reason ... the dogs. At the end, the good judgment wins, thank God.
Today we are about 8 to 10 active volunteers and about 20 others who are doing foster homes or helping at events like fundraisings, or exhibitions like, for example, at the “OviBeja” where thousand of visitors come to Beja to see all kind of stuff our region has to offer. There, we mount a little stand with things to sell (t-shirts, stickers etc.) and for sure, every day (it’s a 5 day event) we take 2 dogs, hoping they get adopted. At the top of the dog cages there’s a big moneybox, normally it’s a great success.
Some years ago, a German organization helped us to buy a van for transporting dogs and dog food. We even drove to Italy with it to take 10 greyhound dogs there. That was some trip...

Next week I’ll start with posts named “Dog of the Week” where you’ll know the dogs in our shelter in detail, one at the time. Maybe somebody shows interest in one of them!

domingo, 17 de fevereiro de 2013

Our Shelter in Portugal - Part 2

This weekend it’s time to speak about the kennel itself. It was built in 1982 by the city of Beja to resolve the crowing dog problem in our region. It’s situated at the end of the material park of the Community of Beja and belonged entirely to the city. At that time of course they didn’t have much care for dogs, we actually don’t know what happened of most of them, but you can imagine how they ended...

About 1998 a small group of dog lovers talked to the city to give them the management of that kennel. Some time later that small group went growing and started as an organization, the “Associação Cantinho dos Animais de Beja”. This will be the issue for next weekend. Today the front aspect is this:

We can’t write letters on the wall for identifications because of our (great) neighbors, the gipsy’s. 10 years ago, the city thought they could resolve the problems with that kind of people gathering them in one neighborhood outside of Beja, but today they are sure that they’ve created a ghetto, with all the problems that comes with it! The biggest problems of course are with us and the dogs. In the last 2 years they stole 6 dogs from us, 2 are still missing! We had to raise the walls and mount some security facilities, money we could, and should have spent on the dogs. Me, for example, they know veeery well, they know that I’m working with tv’s, so, I have to put my car far away for them not to see that I’m working there. The dog food I only can carry there after midnight for nobody to see me, and only food for 2 days, if not, they could steel it. They are a big problem for us, but what can we do?

This part of the shelter we call the old part. It was built right when our organization started, at the left you can see the original building. About 12 years ago there were 160 dogs there; it was a big chaos, no condition for them, no proper medical care and not enough food for all.
(Note: this photos were taken before cleaning)

Because of this, the city decided to build that what we call today the new part:

Some “lazy” doggies who are at the outside, in the middle, a very especial one, an old Lady named Bolota, handicapped but veeery nice.

In total, we have 33 boxes, and in the original building some more space where we put the incoming dogs, or the problematic ones. Problematic not because they have bad behavior, but because of their former owners who mostly mistreated them; clearly speaking: to hide the dogs for a while! It’s very, very rare to have bad dogs, it happens much more often to have bad owners!

Like I said, the last counting achieved 120 dogs, and 30 in foster homes. For sure the city is helping us in form of the ground and the buildings, we don’t have to pay for water and electricity and most of all, they allow me to work there Monday to Friday, for 4 hours. We are trying to make it 5 hours for having time for all the things I would like to do there!

domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2013

Our Shelter in Portugal - Part 1

I created this blog especially for Solhund and Hundrondellen groups to make us known better

Portugal is a country in Southern Europe, with about 10 million people. It lies close to Spain at the so called Iberian Peninsula. It even could belong to Spain, some centuries ago they even made wars about it ... but nowadays they are best friends.
Today Portugal is mostly known for their great beaches, Port wine and of course, football players like Eusébio, Figo and more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo. It also belongs to the European Union and we pay in Euro.
Like almost every country in South Europe, we got a big dog problem. People mostly don’t care about those animals, most shelters are full and it’s getting worse. The recent economic crisis is not helping at all! Some of those shelters do not have the capacity of keeping them, so they simply put them asleep! There is a strange law who says that once a dog is captured in a public shelter, they got 8 days do “resolve” the problem, if not, the dog is murdered! Thank God this is not the way that private shelters like ours work, we do our best to feed them well and get for them the best medical assistance possible.
Our Kennel is situated near Beja, a city about 150km from the Algarve and 180km from Lisbon. The region is Alentejo, known for their big landscapes and hot weather in the summer, but also known as a hunting area, in the recent past, most of the abandoned animals were hunting dogs, bus strangely today most dogs are small ones, we think the main reason is money problems of the owners, they can’t keep them anymore.
Believing the last count, we got about 120 animals, and more 30 in foster homes. All of them have to be feet and kept in good health. This costs money, of course. So, we created an association where members pays 20€ each year. But, with the crisis, many members went out, and if it wasn’t for the good will if a big selling surface (Intermarché) and some campaigns we organize, the situation would be much worse as it already is.
In our shelter we got only dogs, we don’t have the facilities for cats, but some volunteers are helping at this matter too, by publishing cases in the internet or with being a foster home.  

Next weekend I’ll put here some pictures of our kennel and will do some more explications about it. If you got any question please just ask.