The Portugal News, 21 May 2011

by SOS Algarve Animals on May 25, 2011


 ANIMAL WORLD The Portugal News

• 21 May 2011

SOS Algarve Animals – How it Began

In February 2010, with the announcement that the Goldra shelter was to close, SOS Algarve Animals joined together to help re-home some of the dogs. One thing led to another, and before we could turn around we were doing 90% of the Goldra re-homings, both here in Portugal and to new homes abroad.

Happily, in just over one year, SOS Algarve Animals managed to find homes for 135 Goldra dogs and puppies.  These were dogs that had either been at the shelter for many years or were newly arrived that year. 

As SOS Algarve Animals has grown and expanded, we now continually receive cries for help from individuals who have rescued a street dog, puppy, cat or kitten.  These ‘individual’ animals we also work with and try to find homes and placements for.  Unfortunately, we cannot help them all but we try to help as many as we are able and always provide advice.

SOS Algarve Animals does not have a shelter of its own.  Instead, we work with a network of foster families and dog hotels.  We are not affiliated with any one shelter, but try to offer help whenever we are able.

Our initial aid was to the animals at Goldra, but as there now remain only a few dogs at the site, we have begun helping the animals at the Canil São Francisco do Assis, both by re-homing and trying to improve their quality of life. 

The team at SOS Algarve Animals focus upon trying to find the right animal for a possible owner. When an enquiry is made by a person looking for a pet, we work with them for as long as it takes to find them the right animal for their lifestyle. We are successful because we care about it being a proper match between animal and family. 

There are so many animals in the shelters looking for good homes. For every animal that is bought, another one in the shelter dies….Thousands of available, abandoned animals, of all sizes, breeds and ages, which are social and with wonderful characters, in need of homes in Portugal.

I would encourage anyone to consider the needy animals in their local shelters before visiting a pet shop or breeder for their future dog or cat.

But, going into a shelter on your own and seeing the hundreds of dogs crying for attention makes it difficult, if not nearly impossible, to chose the right dog for you and your lifestyle.

So, we try to offer a bit of guidance and experience to help chose the perfect pet. Every shelter animal being adopted by SOS Algarve Animals will always be taken to a vet before he or she goes to a new family.  We want to make sure that your new animal has the absolute best start possible to its new life and we try to offer support and advice from beginning to end.

A large percentage of the homes found by SOS Algarve Animals, for both dogs and cats, are to organisations abroad.  These are homes organised by non-profit groups much like us, people who are simply concerned with the wellbeing and the care of all animals, regardless of where they are from.

Countries like Germany, Holland, Austria and Switzerland among others do not have significant animal problems of their own and try to bring in social animals from countries like Portugal, Spain, Greece, Romania and even Russia, to offer them a better life.

The position of SOS Algarve Animals has never been to send dogs to countries with their own (stray) problems, only to countries which truly want dogs from abroad.  Unfortunately, even these countries cannot offer homes to every needy animal and so only some very special animals are chosen. We feel that our rescue dogs who travel abroad are representatives for all animals of Portugal, and as such they should be friendly and loving family pets who will fit into the home to where they are travelling.

How do our adoptions abroad work?

We have frequent trips to meet the head and other members of the teams abroad, making a scheduled trip every two or three months where we meet with a few of our re-homed animals to ensure they are happy. 

In addition, SOS Algarve Animals does everything it can to ensure that before an animal leaves Portugal he or she is healthy, neutered and vaccinated. The animal must also meet all the necessary requirements for appropriate travel to the receiving country. 

We are also careful to honestly describe the animal’s nature, whether it is good with children, other pets, housetrained, gentle, energetic or whether it would do well in an apartment, with other animals, with an elderly, loud or quiet family, for example.

Dogs or cats are not sent direct from shelters as we prefer to keep an eye on them before they leave to know that everything is alright.  If one of our animals is ‘reserved’ to travel abroad, we then move him or her to a temporary foster family or to a dog hotel to learn more about him or her before the reservation is confirmed. If there is not a foster space available, the animal is not sent at that time, however everything is done to ensure the chosen animal is able to travel as soon as possible.   

The overseas organisations do much the same as we do.  Most importantly, they only reserve an animal if they have a family placement for the animal upon his or her arrival.  Sometimes this will be a permanent family and sometimes a foster family.  They do tremendous house controls and follow ups and have very strict homing requirements, with adoption contracts that put ours in Portugal to shame. They also offer support so if an adoption doesn’t work out for any reason, they collect the animal and do everything they can to find another home.

These organisations work with volunteers, and although they have adoption costs, they too do tremendous amounts of work for no pay and rely upon fundraising and sponsors.

When the dog or cat does arrive at its new home, we receive photos, stories, and updates, which make it all worthwhile. We now publicise all our re-homings and other activities on our new website. By sharing this with the community, we hope to gain greater support for our work. 

For more information about SOS Algarve Animals, please visit their new website at: Or meet volunteers at the Algarve Dog Show on 4 and 5 June at the Fatacil fairground in Lagoa.

Laura McGeoch