Animal shelter faces eviction

A total of €150,000 needs to be raised urgently to secure the future of the animals at the Refúgio dos Burros in Estômbar or many will need to be put to sleep, as the owner of the land on which the shelter has been based for 20 years wants to sell due to ill health and retirement.

Now the volunteers of the animal protection association need to buy the property and although aware that it is quite a target to achieve, they say failure is not an option, particularly when the future of more than 160 animals is at stake.

Bridie Harding, a volunteer and the kennel manager, said: “With Portugal in the state that it is at the moment, there will be no miracle solution for these animals. Without this refuge, the animals will have to be slaughtered. We don’t expect to meet our goal in 60 days but will keep working hard until we do. We won’t rest until the land is bought and the refuge saved.”

The Refúgio dos Burros was started in 1989 by Peter Lee Lander and Nan Richardson, a retired couple from England.

Their goal was to rescue as many abused and abandoned donkeys as they could and care for these animals on their small farm in Estombar, where, if the animal couldn’t go on to be found a good home, it was promised a home for life with them.

The Refúgio is still to this day run on the same principles, although it is now home to 104 dogs and puppies, 48 cats and kittens, three horses, four donkeys one mule, three sheep, three pigs, four chickens and one duck.

Peter and Nan invested their life savings into establishing this sanctuary. Sadly Nan passed away in 2012 and Peter is experiencing health problems.

Looking to the future so that their work for animals in the Algarve can continue, the registered charity that runs the Refúgio has been offered the opportunity to take ownership of the land, on which the animal shelter currently operates, transferred to them.

Bridie Harding said: “This would mean security for the animals already there and that many more could be cared for in the future.

“However, we need to raise €150,000 to make this happen and really need everyone’s help to achieve this goal as soon as possible. Any monies donated will be placed in a separate bank account to be used solely for the purpose of acquiring the Refúgio and will not be used for any other purpose.”

The volunteer, who has been helping at the Estômbar animal shelter for five years, said: “We are determined to reach our target, but just in case any unforeseen problems occur and the Refúgio has to close, we can assure everyone that their donation will be spent directly on animal care, as we will need to relocate the homeable animals and put to sleep the ones that can’t be re-homed. If people would prefer to have their donation returned, they should let us have their contact details when making the donation.”

Each week €2,000 needs to be raised to keep the animal shelter functioning. Costs include food, vet bills, sterilisations, medicines, rent and general care. No government help is provided and the shelter relies solely on donations and money raised from the sale of second-hand items at charity shops.

Chris Cottis, who is in charge of the charity shops, said: “None of us are getting any younger and we already dedicate all our time to the everyday running of the sanctuary and to raising funds with charity events such as dinners, picnics and quiz evenings.We welcome anyone who wants to run an event to raise funds for us or who would like to help in the shops.”

Please help by giving a donation via their bank NIB 000703610001091000074 or by donating goods for sale to one of their shops in Carvoeiro, Ferragudo or Lagoa. Alternatively, you can donate by using Paypal and entering the Refúgio’s email address [email protected]

Please contact Chris Cottis on 966 033 127 or Alan Wilkins on 967 259 701 for more information or to discuss any fundraising ideas you may have.

Facebook: Virtual Visit to Refúgio dos Burros