A report on the concept of “community animals”
They could be better off...
In our day-to-day life we often come across dogs and cats wandering the streets. Their life situation may differ greatly –they may have a home and family, have been sent out for a walk, they may have been abandoned or stray-born on the street, or they may simply be lost.
Given that the number of stray animals in need of a home exceeds that of potential adopters, it is necessary to consider other possibilities that could lead to a better monitoring of the homeless animal population. This crucial debate should also include the concept of "community animals" [Resolution of the Portuguese Parliament No. 69/2011], that is, of animals that do not have an individual owner, but are protected in a public environment where their guard, subsistence and medical/veterinary care are provided by a community of local residents or other groups of citizens. In our view, this concept also encompasses the cases of "animal adoption" by public institutions such as nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, care homes for children and young people, as well as schools or neighbourhood shops and workshops.
Once a group of people decide to "adopt" one or more homeless animals, they obviously must be able to ensure a healthy life for their protégées and prevent their reproduction in the streets. In cooperation with the competent authorities and local associations their sterilisation, vaccination and microchipping must be ensured, as well as adequate conditions with regard to housing and hygiene. To feed homeless animals – a practice that in itself does nothing to reduce the existing overpopulation of roaming animals – is definitely not enough, nor should the decision to “adopt” be taken lightly, as animals develop continuous attachment and dependence ties to the people involved in their care and subsistence.
The project Amor Rafeiro (For the Love of Mongrels) went on to meet and document a number of cases where the concept of “community animal”, in its broadest sense, is being put into practice. Once again we were accompanied by the German television station WDR, which filmed several successful stories for the programme "Tiere suchen ein Zuhause" (animals are looking for a home). From the local fire station to a nursing home, from a public school to a neighbourhood store, everywhere we found animals and people to be happy with their situation and choice. Not all stray dogs and cats need an individual owner or to be housed in a municipal or association’s shelter. There are alternatives that can be studied, implemented and improved in order to lessen the suffering of homeless animals.
The programme will be broadcast on January 25, 2015 but you can see the video on the following link:VIDEO