Algarve resident Martin Hepton, who has been working with animal charities in the region for 10 years, says the problem of stray and abandoned dogs continues.
Around 10 years ago, Martin, who has been living in the region for more than 20 years, started to work with the Association for the Protection of Animals in the Algarve (APAA).
“I first started out helping the charity with their paperwork but as the years went by, I found myself helping more and more as my role evolved,” he said.
Martin now helps to organise the annual Scruffts dog show for the APAA.
“For the past five or six years, I have been involved with Scruffts, which has grown each year to include more classes and attract more owners and their dogs to the event.”
He added: “This year we have added a new ‘child and dog class’ as well as a people’s vote, which we hope will encourage more people to be involved with the show.”
Just because Scruffts is a dog show, it is not only for dog owners and Martin hopes that by introducing the people’s vote that everyone attending will be able to get into the spirit of the show.
“Members of the audience will be passed slips to vote for their favourite dog, with an announcement then being made after lunch. This is a major change for the show and will hopefully engender more interest,” said Martin.
Scruffts continues to be a popular event for animal lovers, but Martin would ideally like to see more Portuguese people taking part in the show.
“Every year we send press releases to Portuguese press and put up posters in Portuguese and while we do have some Portuguese people who attend, we would love to see more this year to make this a truly Algarve event.”
While the APAA is currently working to raise money to build a rescue centre of its own, the charity continues to help stray and abandoned animals throughout the Algarve.
“Trying to help to conquer the problem of abandoned and stray animals is an endless road and while as charities we continue to do our best, there is no magic wand that we can wave to make this problem go away,”
Scruffts Dog of the Year Show showcases the work APAA carries out to relieve animal suffering in the Algarve.
The association provides free food to people who take in and care for abandoned animals and they help people with contributions towards veterinary care for sick or injured animals.
But perhaps they are most well-known for their SNiP (Spaying and Neutering in Portugal) programme which is invaluable in reducing the number of unwanted puppies and kittens being born each year. They work with vets from Espiche to Vilamoura so that, hopefully, people who need help can take their animals to a clinic near their home rather than having to travel long distances to a specific clinic. APAA is indebted to those vets for their help in carrying out this vital work.
Although Scruffts is APAA’s biggest event each year, the show is not just about APAA.
In the past couple of years, it has become a celebration of the work done in the animal welfare field by many animal organisations and charities.
To encourage this wider participation, animal charities across the Algarve and beyond will, once again, be invited to take part free of charge.
If you would like to sponsor a class in the show, take a trade stand or have your company banner displayed on the show ring please contact Show Chairman Martin Hepton on [email protected].