SOSAA Visits Local Shelters and Canils – No. 2 Canil Ferreiras do Alentejo

by SOS Algarve Animals on November 5, 2014

Visiting a municipal camara canil for a first time is not an easy thing to do, and it does not become any easier in time, it  will always involve taking a deep breath, pushing back the tears you know you are about to experience.

This is because all municipal camara canils are licensed as kill shelters…it is the only license they are allowed to have.  Beyond that, there are very few restrictions upon the canils.  They must take in all animals from their municipality, they are run by a municipal appointed vet.  What they do with their animals, how they treat them, who survives, who is put to sleep, all those decisions are for the municipal vet to decide given his allocated budget.

Canil Front

There is a positive change visible in some municipal canils.  Canils such as Portimao and Albufeira are doing more than ever to improve the welfare of the animals in their care and to try to find homes for those animals instead of euthanising.  Such canils allow and have accepted help from the public and private individuals…and in doing so they have more resources available.

Even the good municipal canils still put animals to sleep (sick, aggressive animals), yes they face no end of obstacles, but they try to offer them care, to keep them safe, to find homes.

So when we had a cry for help from a young municipal vet, from a canil we had never before heard, it was without a doubt that we answered.

This municipal canil is located in Ferreira do Alentejo, just north of Aljustrel, Southern Alentejo. Ferreira do Alentejo is a town and a municipality in the Beja District, with a total area of 648.4 km² and a total population of 8,505 inhabitants. Farming and agriculture is the main means of income.  The canil is new, it was built only 3 years ago.  It is well designed, airy and a good size.  It houses approximately 20 individual kennels, all of which have automatic feeders and waterers. The dogs all appeared in reasonable health, clean, well fed…. safe.  We wish that there were more canils with such facilities.


The dogs who are in this canil are all from different backgrounds.  Some are unwanted, some have been seized, some have simply been wandering the streets (and this is not the type of area where a wandering dog will survive).  Currently there are two cases of ‘hoarding’ being dealt with, of which the first 5 dogs have recently come into the canil, with more to follow.


One of the sad dogs who came from a case of hoarding.

It is the canil vet, Dr. Luis Machado, who asked for help to find homes for the animals under his care.  He tries not to put healthy dogs to sleep, he believes in rehoming.

The problem he faces is that the community in this area is small especially compared to the expat community in the Algarve.  There is no help by volunteers for dogwalking or network to find these animals homes.  The dogs are left in their kennels until somebody shows up looking to adopt.  Only 9 dogs have been rehomed this year from the canil.

If the dog is there for a short time it is a hardship they must endure….if the dogs is there for months then that is where the problems begin.

But how can you fault that…when it is either keep a dog or put to sleep? When you simply do not have the volunteers or resources to offer them anything more.  It is not an easy choice and one that we are glad we do not have to face.

From the canil we were able to take two dogs home with us, Fara and Frida.  Fara has now moved to a new home, while Frida remains in our care waiting for a home. Frida was a sad case as she came into the canil as a puppy… she was there for 7 months.


Fara at the canil, she came home with us that day and is happily reserved for a new family.

Frida at canil 1

Frida who also came home with us that day.

Frida now and playing in her paddling pool

Frida is now far happier and in our care, although still seeking a family.  You can read more about Frida’s story here.

But the dogs we left behind, we remember their sadness.  We remember how desperate they were, how badly they needed just that one person to take them away and to love. There was a sweet little older brown dog who was scared but gentle, a energetic brown girl who threw herself upon us for affection, a gentle rafeiro alentejano mix.  All these dogs…there and just waiting.  They need help, they need photos to be shared, they need us to know that they are there in case that one person is willing to offer them a home.

IMG_2754The little old boy


The super friendly girl

IMG_2791The gentle Rafeiro Alentejano mix

For the dogs who are at the canil the good news is that we made a suggestion which the canil is already implementing.  There is a small well-fenced area attached to the canil.  We suggested that they cut down the weeds and then, when the kennels are being cleaned, turn dogs into this area on a rotating basis to allow each dog, at least once a week, a little free time out of their kennel.  Before we even left instructions were being given to the cleaner to begin preparing this area, and hopefully, this will make a dogs time in the canil that little bit better.


We have many other photos of our recent visit that can be found here.  If you would like any further information about any of the dogs at the canil and needing homes contact us and we are happy to help.

Contact information of the canil is as follows:

Câmara Municipal de Ferreira do Alentejo
Praça Comendador Infante Passanha, 5
7900-571 Ferreira do Alentejo
Telefone: 289 738 700 


To make a donation to allow this work to continue information about how to donate can be found here.

And if you would like to read other articles in this series on other shelters or canils please go here.  Thank you