In April we made another visit to Spain. This time we flew to Faro in Portugal and then drove the short journey across the border to Ayamonte.
Their shelter is in the middle of a pine forest and after our meeting with Claudette we drove to the shelter to meet the APAPA team. Joseph is the Manager and he lives on site. We were welcomed by all the dogs, and cats, and moved in and out of their kennels to dodge the very heavy rain. When the rain finally stopped we could spend some time in the main exercise area and did manage to give the dogs some treats and a few cuddles before we left.We met with Claudette from APAPA (Asociacion Protectora de Animales y Plantas de Ayamonte). We have supported APAPA for some years by funding veterinary costs for some of the galgos they rescue, as well as sending donations of coats, medicines, blankets etc. Like most shelters in Spain they help all breeds and with our help have been able to take in more galgos. They see some very sad cases like Bogart and Chanel.
Claudette finds homes for the galgos in Holland, Portugal, Spain and Germany and receives good feedback from the adopters which is very important. They have a good team of volunteers but always need more. They have been able to home dogs locally and organise some fundraising events to raise awareness of their work and to encourage more support. They are keen to promote the education programme and are currently looking at new ideas for this which we hope to report on in our next newsletter.
We said our goodbyes to Claudette and her team and drove to Almendralejo, a journey of around three hours. We were met by Mada of RECAL. We have supported RECAL for many years by funding veterinary and transport costs for the galgos they rescue and first visited in 2010. The galgos that come to the UK come from RECAL.
The last project we funded was the building of exercise paddocks and it was wonderful to hear from Mada that these have been so successful. The dogs can be regularly exercised, nervous dogs, especially galgos, can be socialised more easily and Mada told us that adoptions have increased in recent years. More galgos are handed in now and some galgueros will hold on to their galgos until RECAL can take them in. Mada told us that although more volunteers are needed she is getting more support from the local community. They recently set up a project for people to donate plastic bottles for recycling and this has proved popular and helps raise much needed funds.
The galgos at the shelter now will soon be leaving for Pep’s kennels in Barcelona and once they leave more can be taken in. Mada and her team have worked so hard at RECAL and we could see what a difference the major improvements have made to the quality of life for the dogs whilst they wait to be adopted. We were able to discuss future projects and one project is providing more shading in the exercise paddocks as the dogs soon destroyed the trees! We await more details from Mada regarding the different options for this and hope to report back on this in our next newsletter.
Eva from ADANA (Badajoz) came to meet us in Almendralejo and we then travelled with her to Badajoz, about an hour away.
We met Eva last year in Albacete and it was good to meet her again and also to meet the ADANA team. We have supported ADANA by funding veterinary and transport costs for galgos they help who are homed in Italy or Slovenia.
ADANA help all breeds and report all dogs that come into their care to the authorities. They feel very strongly that this must be done and they work tirelessly campaigning for a better life for animals in their area.They don’t have their own shelter but place their rescues in foster homes and we met one of their foster Mums who was looking after Lucas. He is a lovely long haired galgo who loves fuss, he kept going amongst us all for strokes and cuddles. He will be going to his new home in Italy soon.
They have noticed that people are becoming more interested in the abandoned animals and feel that changes for the better have started. They work hard on the education programme and on raising awareness of the problem for animals in Spain, in particular, the galgos. They feel very strongly that this is the way forward. These protests take place in many cities in Spain and RECAL and ADANA take part. They both told us that the numbers of people attending these protests in their area increase every year.
For five years now the NAC (No Hunting) Platform have been organising protests twice a year, in February and October, in order to raise awareness about the abuse on so-called “hunting” dogs as well as showing their opposition to hunting in general.
One of the most important activities for ADANA is the CONGRESS ON BEHALF OF THE RIGHTS OF THE ANIMALS that is organised once a year. Eva told us “In this Congress ADANA show the different problems that affect the maltreatment to the animals and the evolution of the laws to help to defend them.
The relationship between interpersonal violence and maltreatment was the main point last year. Around this point, local experts shared with national and international partners different areas related with it. Prevention, Education, the paper of the Police to investigate and the paper of the radios and newspapers were some of the main points.”
ADANA is already organizing the Congress for this year.
ADANA organise many education visits to local schools and have been using the GIN material for the younger children. We were grateful to Elena and Susanna for arranging for us to attend one of their visits at the Instituto de Ensenanza Secundaria, San Roque.
It is heartening to see the shelters in Spain pushing forward with the education programme. All appreciate that change will take time but seeing the reaction of the children in the classroom we can feel more positive that the future will be better for many dogs, cats and other animals in Spain.Susanna had prepared a powerpoint programme showing cases of cruelty as well as happily homed dogs. The children sat silently watching this and were encouraged to ask questions at the end of the programme. Many could not understand why people had been cruel to the animals and were glad to see the photos and videos of homed dogs. They seemed genuinely interested asking many questions and were in no rush to go to their next lesson!
This trip was a busy one, but very worthwhile. We covered over 400 miles in a few days and a special thank you here to Leigh, our veterinary Trustee, for safely driving us around.
During our visit we had the opportunity to have meetings with Claudette, Mada and Eva about their plans for the future and possible ways we can help. We now await more details/quotes from them on new projects. They have all asked us to thank you, our supporters, for your kind donations, material and financial, which enables us to give support to many shelters in Spain and adoption groups in Europe who are all working hard for the galgos.