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.
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.
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: http://da.ambaal.pt/noticias/?id=3621
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.