street puppies

Algarve animal shelter puts Portugal’s animal emergency into words

AEZA has been trying to shape mentalities for 22 years; believes community has learnt very little

Algarve animal shelter AEZA has put into words the frustrations that most animal shelters in Portugal are feeling.

A country that lauded the fact that it had dispensed with ‘kill kennels’ is now a country overflowing with discarded, unwanted animals.

As naysayers to the law to end with animal euthanasia warned, the situation is careering out of control.

Here are AEZA’s words: “It is totally frustrating, exhausting and worrying, that after 22 years of activity at AEZA, where we have been trying to encourage the population of the municipality of Aljezur to sterilize their dogs and cats – as this is the only possible and effective way to combat the thousands of births of animals that will never be able to find an adopting family and thus will swell the numbers of abandoned animals in Aljezur and in Portugal – what we can see is that the situation not only has not evolved in a positive way, but the prospects are in the direction of getting worse in the future.

At the moment we have 53 dogs and 54 cats in our refuge and in some foster families.

“With regard to cats, we are also responsible for looking after the approximately 18 colonies spread throughout the municipality of Aljezur, which should have over 90 animals.

AEZA’s cat colonies involve dozens of cats that will never have homes (as they are all too wild) The focus is on ensuring that all members of the colonies are neutered.

“Apart from these numbers, we receive daily messages and phone calls from citizens residing in Aljezur with the intention of delivering more animals to us.

“Can anyone tell us how we might ever resolve this?

“Due to the evident lack of interest in this subject, shown by local and national politicians, by the authorities, by the majority of the population… what to do?

“Will a miracle be the only solution?

“We are going to try to fight this whole system that is completely indifferent to animals, as we have been doing for the last 22 years.

“How long will we hold out, that’s the question…”

By coincidence, AEZA’s emotive post comes just days after another animal sanctuary, further east in Loulé, wrote of its complete frustration over attitudes/ actions towards feral cats.

Animal protectors may have to start ‘joining forces’ in their bid to change mentalities. This newspaper remembers the days of Bridget Hicks – perhaps the first ‘expat animal champion’, who arrived here in the 70s, intent on turning animal cruelty and abandonment around. Her main battle was always ‘sterilisation’ – of both cats and dogs. She said it was “the only way” to stop the endless stream of animals appearing, with no-one wanting them.

Fast forward almost 50 years, and the Algarve has changed almost beyond belief – but the problem with stray, abandoned animals remains stubbornly rooted in the ‘bad old days’.

AEZA meantime is always in need of volunteers to help walk their kennels full of dogs. It is an activity they feel “teaches the dog that human touch can be kind” – and it is a great way to meet a dog if you are looking to adopt.

Dog walking days are Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tuesday and Friday at 10.30am, Sundays from 2.30pm.

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