FOR THE LOVE OF MONGRELS (AMOR RAFEIRO)
Citizens of Almada for a multipurpose home for cats and dogs.[PORTUGUÊS] | [DEUTSCH]
In today’s society, many people have begun to ask what man’s role on the planet is, with the result that more attention is being given to environmental issues and to the fate of other marginalised creatures in threat of extinction. The growing concern for animals in general is also reflected in greater consideration for domestic animals and pets.
The idea that animals are not merely objects to be used by man as he pleases lies at the heart of a gradual shift which has changed a merely working relationship into one based more on affection and respect, leading to animals being given a more active, involved and transforming role.
The changes in modern society have also had an impact on the role of domestic animals, which are now seen less as working/guard animals as in the past and more as pets. The latter is the main purpose of dogs and cats in the urban settings in which most of the population now lives. Moreover, the therapeutic use of the emotional bond between man and animal is no longer the preserve of specialised branches of psychology, pedagogy and health but something increasingly sought after and applied.
Brief description of the project
This general context, as well as the search for solutions to more concrete local problems, lie behind the goals and actions of the Amor Rafeiro project in the Municipality of Almada (Portugal).
Amor Rafeiro is a citizens’ movement whose immediate aim is the construction of a multipurpose cats and dogs home in the municipality of Almada and which, consequently, works in close cooperation with the association Amigos dos Animais de Almada (AOAAA), which is responsible for the current Aroeira dog shelter, and the association Onde há gato, não há rato!, which provides support to and controls the countless stray cat communities within the municipality.
How did the movement first emerge?
The Aroeira dog shelter has existed for many years, but it was following a major storm in the winter of 2013 that a group of volunteers said, ‘Enough is enough! Insecurity and abandonment are not inevitable!’They began to organise themselves in order to explore new solutions and innovative ideas to change the current state of affairs.
Why a multipurpose cats and dogs home?
As the word ‘multipurpose’ suggests, the new facilities Amor Rafeiro hopes to erect will benefit people as much as animals. The idea is not to create another forgotten animal pound but to bring people to the new cats and dogs home – families, schoolchildren and the general public – so that it can be shared and used by everyone.
How might the project actually work?
Here are a few examples to illustrate the ideas behind the project:
Physical exercise with animals: people who are unable to own a dog can walk one to the benefit of both animal and person. To this end, the dogs at the shelter are being trained to walk properly on a lead.
Social care with animals: since January 2014, a street dog has been visiting once a week the SMCA’s Lar Granja Luís Rodrigues, a home for the elderly in Costas de Cão, bringing joy and affection to the old people living there. Essentially, the aim is to re-integrate abandoned dogs and cats into society, the place which they belong to as pets. In both of the cases mentioned, these schemes are already being put into practice at a low level, but once the new cats and dogs home is built they will become regular activities.
And cats? How is it hoped to achieve this interaction?
Amor Rafeiro also has a few ideas in this area, such as adoption of cats by neighbourhood shops. One such idea also involves old people’s homes, which could adopt one or two cats, in particular those which have already had a home and been abandoned. These animals need love and affection. There are cases of stray cats which have become tame and created strong bonds with old people. All of them can be perfectly integrated into this type of environment. In fact, it is often the elderly who take care of stray cats. They are the ones who concern themselves and who as a result deserve support, including at the institutional level too.
Why aren’t the relevant associations developing this project? Why the need for another organisation?
The grassroots associations often do not have the resources and are fully occupied in dealing with day-to-day tasks and problems. Amor Rafeiro brings together a growing number of professionals who, working intheir own fields, can contribute to solving issues which tend to remain unaddressed, such as, for example, social interaction, awareness raising in schools, the creation of partnerships, campaigns against animal abandonmentor in favour of sterilisation and responsible adoption.
The ‘Preventing Abandonment – Fostering Responsible Citizenship’ programme is the most recent schemein a campaign of mass sterilisation of cats and dogs and public awareness which Amor Rafeiro hopes to undertake in cooperation with Almada Municipal Council. The problem of abandoning animals has to be addressed at its root through cooperation between civil society, the private sector (veterinary clinics) and local and regional administrative bodies. To finance this campaign, we hope to find private sponsors and public entities that can help to provide the necessary equipment and materials.
Amor Rafeiro is also hoping to obtain a site and a licence from Almada Municipal Council to set up the future cats and dogs home. Do you already have somewhere in mind?
A good dialogue has been established with Almada Council. A series of meetings have been held at which Amor Rafeiro’s proposals were discussed, including the issue of a site, which is currently the main point on the agenda. Amor Rafeiro has a team of professionals working in architecture and engineering who, when the time is right, will present plans for the site in question.
A project like this is never cheap. How is it planned to find the funding to make it viable?
Amor Rafeiro needs the understanding and goodwill of everyone in Almada to contribute when the project goes ahead. For that reason,the movement will continue to raise awareness and inform, strengthen the partnerships created and seek out new ones, participate in the Council’s initiatives and publicise its ideas through the media. Applying for national funding is one option, but the possibility of obtaining funding from abroad is also being studied.
If you wish to donate, please do it through one of the project’s two partner associations.
Amigos dos Animais de Almada
If you wish to donate to our work:
NIB: 0036 0088 99100019335 68
Banco: MONTEPIO GERAL
Onde há gato, não há rato!
If you wish to donate to our work:
NIB: 0036 0229 99100180285 06
Banco: MONTEPIO GERAL