When we began our series on visiting shelters and canils one of the first requests we received came from AEZA, to please visit them and share their story about the work they do and the obstacles they face.
AEZA is the charity that runs and manages the Aljezur municipal camara canil, it is the first association to be linked to municipal canil. AEZA was founded in 2001, by the municipal vet at that time, a Portuguese vet who had worked in Germany and who simply refused to kill dogs after 10 days. AEZA was the first association to be linked to a municipal canil.
Since AEZA’s formation they have rescued, saved and rehomed hundreds of dogs and cats. Kerry Gross now manages the shelter. She started helping and became involved first as a volunteer just five years ago. With her involvement AEZA has increased its work and publicity, and are now rehoming many more animals both within Portugal and to Germany and the UK.
When you first see the canil you are taken by surprise. It is all outdoors and appears to be an old pig shed structure, almost a ruin. There is nothing fancy about it. With the exception of three new “quarantine” kennels at the front of the building (recently built and sponsored by APAA – a private animal charity) everything is patched up, wearing away. Sadly, despite all the good work AEZA does, they lack support and the canil building is almost falling apart.
But if you look around and a little further you start to notice a few things that make you see past this. All the kennels provide shelter for the animals; all have space enough for the dogs who are living in them to have separate areas for food, for shelter, and for play. All the kennels have beds, and there are blankets in every bed. The dogs are mixed well with very little fighting or bullying. The dogs themselves do not care what the walls may look like, or what has been patched together…this is a kennel where the care and needs and happiness of the dogs come first.
Something that we were very happy to see is that AEZA, with the help of the Camara Municipal Aljezur ,has recently cleared and fenced a large part of the land to make it into an outdoor run. It has just been completed and although not yet in use when we visited, we are sure that very soon this will give the dogs living at the canil a far improved quality of life.
AEZA is a small shelter, with around 10 to 15 kennels to house the animals. There are about 40-45 dogs kept at the canil, with the elderly or dogs in need of special care often staying at Kerry’s home or other foster carers. As with most canils and shelters, these are all dogs who were unwanted, abandoned, sometimes seized from owners…. as with all shelters and canils, there are simply too many. Some of the dogs have been there since Kerry began. Sadly they will probably be there the rest of their lives. They have some wonderful little dogs, and especially some lovely big dogs. Such as an adorable pointer mix, a darling little older lady, a wonderful Chowchow mix, a wonderful chocolate brown female, three beautiful young brothers. They are All craving for attention and a cuddle, but most of all they need homes and families.
Please visit ALBUM for more photos of the dogs available for adoption and waiting for homes.
We did not see any puppies at the canil, they do their best to keep as many puppies as they are able in foster homes. Cats and kittens are also all kept in foster homes, as there is no facility available at the canil which would be adequate to house cats or kittens.
Although AEZA does receive some help from the municipality of Aljezur, funds for the canil in respect of the work they do are not sufficient to cover all the expenses. Aljezur pays for the food for the animals, the water and the dedicated cleaning lady at the kennel. There is no longer a municipal vet in the area, the nearest one is at Portimao, a 45 minutes drive away. But fundraising must pay for all other expenses: such as vet bills, petrol bills, canil improvements, medications and flea and worm treatments.
AEZA also believes in sterilisation as the key way to improve animal welfare in Portugal. With the help of their volunteers they oversee several cat colonies, where they sterilise, release and monitor street cats. AEZA also recently held a two month sponsored sterilisation program for low-income pet owners of Aljezur. As Kerry herself said, eventually the offspring would come into the canil, their goal is to offer help before that becomes necessary.
As animal workers, even as animal lovers, we often complain about Portuguese municipal canils and how they must change. AEZA is an example of a municipal canil who, with the help and dedication of volunteers has already changed. Today AEZA stands as an example of how canils should work, it is the type of canil that truly helps the animals of its municipality and in its care. For residents of Aljezur, if you are an animal lover, this is exactly the type of work that deserves support and help.
AEZA holds dog walks three times a week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings and Sunday afternoons. A fundraising committee for AEZA is also being formed. They are in need of help and would welcome any new volunteers. And they especially need adoptants and have some wonderful animals waiting for new homes.
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.
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