How we found homes for our lucky 448, and hopefully many more

by SOS Algarve Animals on December 24, 2011

2011 once again has been a year with a lot of unfortunate animals needing help. Again we have been able to find many loving and happy homes for the unwanted and abandoned animals of the Algarve. The volunteers of SOSAA have put in a lot of time and energy in helping these animals finding their ways into their forever loving homes, whether it concerned, dogs, cats, puppies or kittens.

It is not easy. Honestly, we just keep going, day after day, animals come in and it sometimes heartbreaking to see them arrive in such sad condition, we help them to get better if we can, we assess their characters and start looking for homes, matching the animals characteristics and requirement, and our animals do find homes – which for every animal is always a celebration, for all parties involved, for us, the animal and the new family. We do this full time, about 12 hour per day, six days a week, with volunteers and others helping whenever and however they can. 

Our work is with the animals, rehabilitating, learning their nature, caring for them daily and getting them healthy. A lot of the work involves behind the scenes, i.e. telephone calls, and a lot of paper and computer work. On-line for example – the internet is a tremendous facility for posting information about our animals and what it is we are doing and trying to achieve. We have many good ideas for 2012 and how to change our website so that it will provide more information. Other behind the scenes activities are the flight travel arrangements, contacting the flight parents, preparing the animals and their paperwork for travel, organizing the dogs in foster situations to be at the meeting point, it is what we do best: organizing, organizing and some more organizing. And then, despite being organized, we even sometimes feel a bit disorganized.

Actually, for every animal we manage to find a home there are at least another 10 about whom we are contacted for help at the same time. The problem of unwanted and abandoned animals in Portugal is enormous.

We absolutely do not accept every and/or any home here in Portugal. We must like every new owner. There is always a good or a bad feeling that you get when you first meet the new owner and family. Often, the contact starts by email or phone, which gives us an indication of whether their requirements match the animal that they like and what he or she has to offer. We do ask for as much information as we possibly can from the family about the type of dog (or cat) they are looking for. If they are interested in adopting a puppy (or kitten) we ask about what they are looking for in an adult….

Despite the fact that puppies and kittens soon grow up, we do not rehome any dog or cat, puppy or kitten if we feel it is not the correct fit. We want both our dogs and the new families to live happily ever after. Sometimes the potential adoptants have chosen a dog based upon its photos and description, sometimes we agree and sometimes we will make another suggestion, because the characteristics of the animal involved does not meet the requirements people may have and expect.

The same is true for homes abroad. We do not send animals direct to individuals abroad. With the exception of when a family has met and found an animal here in Portugal (as often families have found a rescue while here on holiday, and wish to take him or her home with them). In such cases, we will care for the animal until he or she can travel but, again, we will only send the animal if we feel it is the correct fit and in the best interest of the animal

The animals who do travel abroad (Germany, Holland, sometimes Switzerland and Austria) are going into the care of other organizations who also work very hard to find new homes. All these organizations are not for profit and also run primarily by dedicated and committed volunteers. They do this work solely because they are animal lovers, they know of the plight of animals in countries like Portugal, and they see a way to bring happiness to our animals and help them reach the type of homes they deserve.

They work very similarly to how we work, by house controlling, meeting families, and making sure it is a correct fit between animal and owner. Sometimes the new family has been found before the animal arrives, and then the new family and representative of the organization are waiting to take their new arrival straight home from the airport. Othertimes there is no new permanent home, but a loving foster home waiting at the airport who will look after the animal until a permanent home is found. We do not send to shelters abroad – all animals travelling abroad go to families.

Our contacts come from regular adverts in the newspapers, from our website, and from word of mouth. We do need these loving homes tremendously but we are never in a rush and rehome animals at any cost. We want the families to be absolutely certain they are ready and want their new animal. All new families must sign a contract. All our animals rehomed must be returned to us in case of any change in circumstances and/or problems, they are not to again be rehomed to a third party without our being contacted so as we can oversee what is best for the animal. In case of problems, we do offer help with fitting in your rescue animal into you (family)life. All our adult animals are sterilized, and all our puppies and kittens, who are too young on the day of their adoption, must be sterilized when they are old enough. We house control as many new homes and families as we are able (but are always looking for more volunteers to help us with this?)

Our dogs are now staying in our rehoming facility, where we can house between twenty and thirty adults. Puppies, kittens and cats are still and will remain with our dedicated and committed team of foster families. We have many good foster families, who often help us out even when their last lot of puppies have just left for their new homes. Thank you so very much to Laura C, Peta & family, Arlene & family and Grace – your work is extremely special and we could not have helped all these animals get to their new homes without your help. And also to our dedicated and wonderful vets and their assistants, for their continuing support and kindness.

Summary 2011: Total Animals Rehomed = 448
Dogs Rehomed = 130 (82 abroad, 48 in Portugal)
Puppies Rehomed = 188 (124 abroad, 64 in Portugal)
Cats Rehomed = 38 (19 abroad, 19 in Portugal)
Kittens Rehomed = 92 (56 abroad, 36 in Portugal)

Summary 2010: Total Animals Rehomed = 333
Dogs Rehomed = 155 (110 abroad, 45 in Portugal)
Puppies Rehomed = 155 (126 abroad, 29 in Portugal)
Cats Rehomed = 2 (both in Portugal)
Kittens Rehomed = 21 (2 in Portugal, 19 abroad)

*Much of the rehoming efforts in 2010 involved animals from “Quintinha dos Animais – Goldra”, a local shelter that was scheduled to close. This cause led to SOSAA’s greater involvement in rehoming and the animal welfare community as a whole.

Please see Happy Homes for names and descriptions of each of these lucky animals, as well as many photos of them in their new homes.