19 November 2012

Abandoned Animals Need Our Help

Fear not,  I am not about to detail nasty stories but just to highlight how we can help.  Instead of that expensive and unnecessary Christmas gift for a family pet, how about using that money to help the abandoned?  Or better still, give a deserving animal a new and loving home for the rest of their lives. 

I have not had that many cats since I was small as most lived to great ages but all came from similar backgrounds - not wanted or abandoned.  Before I moved here I lost my two favourite cats so was not able to bring them with me - something I had planned and talked about.  Prudence Kitten was 21 when she died and Pebbles was 16 but they ARE are here - in the sun - as I brought their ashes with me so I did not break my promise to them.

So when I arrived in Lisbon, cat-less I lasted three months before someone told me of a kitten desperate for a home, having been rescued from the street outside El Cortes Ingles in Lisbon.  I went to meet her in a tiny apartment in Alfama where she was being cared for by a lovely Italian man and his partner.  We checked each other out and later that week she arrived tucked in his leather jacket and on the back of a motorbike! I quickly changed her name from one that was certainly controversial and Pansy Potter joined the house.

(Princess) Pansy Potter

A year later, now living in Cascais, I heard a sad tale of another kitten looking for a home.  Someone had taken him but it had not worked out so he joined us and was promptly christened Pompey Bum, after a character in the Shakespeare play Measure for Measure.  Now the pair of them share our life here on the hills of Sintra and I would not be without them and if I could, I would adopt more but common sense prevails so I try to help the charities in some small way when I can on their behalf.

Pompey (Tubs) Bum

There is a crisis worldwide as people struggle to feed and clothe themselves and their families.  A casualty of this is the family pet.  In the UK, the RSPCA - www.rspca.org, The Blue Cross - www.bluecross.org.uk, the PDSA - www.pdsa.org.uk , Battersea Dogs and Cats Home  www.battersea.org.uk, The Cats Protection League - www.cats.org.uk and various other charities, do wonderful work in this field with bands of volunteers selling goods, baking, giving up their time to help.  Here it is rather different.

In the UK we are far more aware of the care of animals thanks to advertising campaigns and not forgetting the wonderful programmes shown on TV over the years like Animal Hospital, Vets in Practice etc.  Those programmes did teach people a lot about animal welfare although, sadly, there are still appalling cases of cruelty in the UK not least of which are badger baiting and dog fighting.  The more people report people for these vile practices and get them prosecuted the better.  Out of the UK, animal welfare is a vastly different concept.  What we take for granted is no necessarily how it happens here or elsewhere in Europe

Remember the old saying:  "A dog is not just for Christmas but for life"? This applies to any animal adopted as a family pet from mice upwards.  A pet is a commitment not something to be disposed of because you are bored or can't afford to feed it. 

Think before you give in to a child's demands - all animals need feeding, exercising, holiday accommodation or someone to take care of them, regular trips to vets for injections against disease, worming tablets, flea treatments etc etc.  With larger animals like horses etc, this bill can be astronomical.
We have some wonderful voluntary associations who do sterling work in rescuing animals from horses, donkeys, goats, rabbits, dogs and cats, as well as raising money to neuter/sterilise dogs and cats to try to solve the never-ending problem of puppies and kittens.
I try to do my bit and have bought some things from the wonderful www.animaisderua.org which has a very informative website. They raise money for sterilisation, medical bills and rehoming.  They have frequent on-line auctions to raise more money. Another good one is BIANCA - Association for the Protection of Homeless Animals www.bianca.pt.  Again a wonderful organisation doing what it can to help the animals get a better life.  They also offer a service to find someone to take an adopted animal to another country if lucky enough to find a home out of Portugal.  A very clever idea.  I have knitted some blankets and donated reworked blankets to help keep the animals warm.

Medical supplies for treating the animals comes at a large financial cost and details are on many of the websites of the types of product required.  Many vets here give tremendous support to the organisations for free.  However more medical help is always valued.  Many times you see volunteers collecting pet food in supermarket entrances - a great idea.  Another idea is animal adoption days in  shopping centres or popular meeting places.  You can check out the animals, ask questions about their stories, the cost of keeping one etc or even give a donation - all will be gratefully received.

I cannot mention all the organisations here but these are some who have pages in English as well as portuguese but ALL need help - financially, medically, physically and not forgetting old blankets, towels etc to keep the animals warm and comfortable.

For horses, ponies and donkeys:
A group of animal lovers with a common interest in the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horses, ponies and donkeys in the Silver Coast region of Portugal.  They support and educate horse owners by sharing and providing information on all aspects of horse husbandry and stable management.  They work with local veterinary clinics and authorities to provide a safe haven for maltreated or abandoned equines.  They also adopt horses, ponies and donkeys from those experiencing financial difficulties until suitable foster or permanent homes can be found as well as forming relationships with local schools and the general community to educate and raise awareness of equine and general animal care.
For cats and dogs:
A group of young, multicultural, highly motivated, men and women that devote – on a voluntary, non remunerated basis – their short free time to improve the living standards of abandoned and mistreated dogs in Portugal.
The Union for the Protection of Animals. UPPA is a non-profit organisation, made possible by the generosity of donors and fee-paying members. All money raised is used for the bettering of the lives of animals most in need, through the offering of medical treatment and the search for new owners willing to adopt an animal.  The following do not have an English option.

www.grupovoluntarios.hive-creations.com - have frequent collection days for food and other donations, in supermarkets.

http://errantes.org - (Patas Errantes) another great example of raising money holding markets and car boots to raise much needed money.

www.uniaozoofila.org - established in 1951 runs various campaigns, one of which being reducating people into not abandoning their animals when they go on holiday.

www.lpda.pt - Portugal's representative in Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, World, a member of  World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and  Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Many more can be found on the web or on Facebook.

Please help if you can.