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Animais de Rua: a sterilisation project for stray animals in Portugal

Hello Readers and Happy New Year! Forgive us our absence around the Christmas time but here we are again, to provide you with valuable information on animal causes.

I have for you a long text written by Bianca Giselle. Bianca is 28, a Portuguese lawyer, comes from Azores but works and lives now in Lisbon. In her spare time she is a volunteer in an organisation called Animais de Rua which deals mostly with sterilisations of stray cats and dogs.

You must have noticed what is the biggest problem in Portugal – there are so many unwanted puppies and kittens, born on the streets or in the forest and the population of stray animals grows very quickly if not controlled. From two abandoned cats you have can have a whole colony of cats in one year!

Not everyone understands how important is sterilisation though. An average dog owner does not sterilise their dogs or cats – some think it is against the nature, some don’t want to spend money. When their dog or cat gets pregnant, they abandon it. The “good ones” keep the animal, wait until the babies are born and then abandon them.

If someone adopts a dog or a cat from a municipal kennel, the animal comes not sterilised. The municipal vets are busy euthanising animals, they don’t have time to sterilise. There is a citizen’s initiative circulating on the Internet pushing for a law that would oblige the municipal kennels to sterilise for free the animals that they give for adoptions but those topics are never very high on the list of priorities of the Portuguese legislator.

The private associations that rescue animals are better – they do their best to sterilise all animals they give for adoptions but many of them don’t have money for that so they don’t do it or they simply rescue less animals ….

This is what Bianca tells us:

Animais de Rua is a registered charity. It has its headquarters in Lisbon but it operates on the national level as it also has its chapters in South Margin, Porto and Algarve (Faro, Lagos and Portimão). Its main objective is to help stray animals, those that live on the streets because they were abandoned or because they were born on the streets. There is not enough resources to place all of them in safe shelters and the conditions in which they live on the streets are very modest (they don’t have food, human kindness and veterinary attention). What can at least be done is that no more animals would be born from there to live in the same conditions.

The association also helps to sterilise the dogs and cats belonging to people that cannot afford to pay themselves for sterilisation.

This is the only reasonable way of controlling the over-population of stray animals. It is opposed to the method officially adopted in Portugal – stray animals are caught on the streets by relevant municipal services, delivered to municipal kennels and there euthanised after 7 days. If any manages to get adopted before, they are given for adoption not sterilised.

The method used by Animais de Rua is a method known for many years in the US and many European countries, so called TNR: Trap-Neuter-Return. That means that animals are caught in an organised way – with the use of equipment such as traps, leads and fences, delivered to the vet to be sterilised, sterilised and liberated in the same territory they were caught. Sterilised animals have their left ear slightly cut – like this it is immediately visible that they are sterilised. We make an effort to provide daily food in the places where those animals were caught and placed again after the sterilisation. Some social and gentle animals we try to place in temporary homes and give them for a responsible adoption.

Since its creation in 2007, Animais de Rua sterilised 7500 animals (dogs and cats) which makes 6 sterilisations per day! Only between 21st of September and 19th of November last year 400 sterilisations were done (9.5 per day!) at the vet clinics with whom Animais de Rua have agreements.

Apart from this, volunteers of Animais de Rua go to schools to talk to children and students about their work and to teach them respect and responsibility for the animals.

The work of this association is unique an pioneer in Portugal. They provide a public service of exceptional importance to Portuguese population that the public autrhorities are not able or are not willing to provide. This services is provided by Animais de Rua without any public support, all their work is done by volunteers and all their resources come from donations.

If you would like to support this important project, you can contact them at : geral@animaisderua.org (English spoken and written). Any donations – financial or material are welcome as well as help of volunteers.

You can also visit their website : http://www.animaisderua.org/ (+ English version)

If you are in Portugal, you can call the number 760 300 161. It costs 0,60€ +IVA but a part of the payment for this phone call goes directly to Animais de Rua.

And here some pictures demostrating the activities of AdR:

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