From 08:00 on Saturday morning October 13th and for the next 36 hours, I and Maria, who also works with animal rescue in Portugal, spent 36 hours living in a dog kennel at the Dutch animal shelter, Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam. We participated in the campaign “Help It’s A Dogs Life” being run by Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam that had begun on October 4th, World Animal Day. For 14 days people would stay in 14 dog kennels day and night, all televised on video camera, in an effort to raise money for improvements to the shelter’s outdoor dog play areas.
SOS Algarve Animals were invited to participate, attend and benefit from this unique fundraising campaign, and the share of the money which Maria and I raised, a fantastic 1285 euros, came directly back to Portugal to be used to help the cats and dogs of the Algarve and the charities with which we each work. Our tremendous thanks goes to all the people who supported us, who donated towards this cause and our work with animal rescue in Portugal.
Our time in the kennels was obviously very different to how we normally live. The biggest change was the lack of freedom, of being able to leave when you wanted. The repetitive environment became tiring, and it was strange to constantly look through the bars and to have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. We amused ourselves by going through the dog flaps and out in to the dog play areas.
We planned on having a lot of free time, the last thing we had expected was for the publicity it generated to be so immense. We were online in the kennels, and we wish there had been three of us, as our conversations with the online forums, chatrooms, and facebook were non-stop.
We were very grateful for all the comforts that the kennels included, the heating, the comfortable beds. Compared to what is provided by animal shelters in Portugal, they were very luxurious kennels, but we were still very glad when we returned home to our proper beds.
The facilities at Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam were astounding, from the vet room, the animal ambulance, to even the reception area. They are operating on an entirely different level to what we see in Portugal. Even so, it is still a shelter and it is still very sad. The staff at the shelter are terrific and so very caring, but the animals who are in the shelter, just like those in shelters in Portugal, crave for more, they deserve to be in a home and with a family who love and care for them.
While we were at the shelter we did witness two sad cases arrive into their care. One such arrival was a lovely little dog who was found on the street. She looked well cared for and she had a registered microchip. The shelter called the registered owner only to find out that the owners had rehomed the dog two years earlier and did not even know the details of the new owner. The other case was a case of abuse, who arrived with the police late at night. A beautiful, friendly, loving dog who had suffered terribly and was in very bad condition. Sadly, we are not the only ones who face such ignorance and complete disregard to the wellbeing of animals. The difference is that this shelter and the Dutch authorities are equipped and dedicated to stopping abuse, to caring for the animals of their country who need help, and to bringing the culprits to justice.
We thank Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam for giving us this opportunity and taking such good care of us while we stayed in their kennels. We would love to see this campaign repeated every year on 4 October, World Animal Day, in Holland, even in Portugal, and perhaps around the world. If you are interested in participating in the future, or in other fundraising campaigns, or to donate please feel free to contact us for more information. And for a complete photo album of our time in the kennels and visiting Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam please click here.
And a little secret that Maria and I learnt this year…. if you have to live in a kennel it is far far nicer if you can share it with a friend.
We are also seeking help and volunteers to work on a fundraising committee. To work with collection jars, publicity, quiz nights, fundraising dinners any and all ideas and help is most welcome, needed and appreciated. We cannot do it alone, we need help, your help! We do believe we can continue making a difference to the situation of the abandoned animals of the Algarve, but it is only possible to keep doing this when we receive help and support.
So thank you again to everyone for this fantatic result.
Laura and the team at SOS Algarve Animals.