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Helping dogs and cats?

Saturday, 24th february 2024.

In the light of current events, we’d like to postpone our story about the Navigator Company until next week and take the opportunity to ask what happens when a need is greater than the services on offer? What happens when an association looking after a town’s abandoned and sick animals, dogs and cats, providing them with food, shelter and medical attention, runs out of money, as the task is proving simply too big and the need far greater than can be remedied with the funds that the association has available? This situation leaves only two possibilities: to either reduce the aid or bring more money into the association’s coffers. ECO123 is of the opinion that it should be possible to organise more money, more donations, on a regular basis.

The Patinhas sem lar association was founded in Espinho, a town near Porto, some ten years ago, in 2013. Espinho’s fame derives mainly from its casino, lively nightlife and beaches. But who looks after the local animals?

The association is currently putting all its efforts and creativity into a crowdfunding campaign and is now asking for your support. If we could find 500 people in Portugal and the rest of Europe prepared to donate 10 euros each, half of the association’s debts with the veterinary hospital would be settled, Patinhas sem lar would be almost completely debt-free and able to face the future with a greater sense of relief.

Any long journey always starts with a first step. Patinhas sem Lar was founded with the mission of looking after 70 abandoned dogs on a plot of land in Paramos near Espinho. The association proceeded to build an animal shelter, and to vaccinate, de-worm and sterilise the animals, while also taking steps to have them adopted. Yet the requests for help were so numerous that, for every dog leaving the animal shelter, there were three or four waiting to be admitted.

Due to the frequent abandonment of cats and litters of kittens, the association built a shelter for cats in 2018. People are asking for help for animals hit by cars on a daily basis. Which makes for high veterinary bills.

If you take a closer look at the expenses, you’ll see that, in 2023, Patinhas sem lar spent exactly 208,500 euros on running the dog and cat shelters, of which 136,000 euros were veterinary costs, amounting to 65% of overall spending. As doctor Ana Paula Castro told ECO123: “Right now we are giving shelter to some 100 dogs and 80 cats, yet we only have two staff. Responsibility for the entire public relations effort, for adoptions, fundraising, managing social media and looking after the animals at weekends lies with around 30 volunteers who give their time to the association. In terms of financial support, we have received a 25,000-euro cash injection from Espinho Municipal Council, 17,000 euros from the ICNF (Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests) and 17,500 euros from Turismo de Portugal. All in all, 59,500 euros, which amounts to 28% of our total spending. Everything else is made up of private donations, crowdfunding and so on. It’s a daily struggle to support so many animals in danger, and to reach financial stability… “



The Patinhas sem lar crowdfunding campaign at https://ppl.pt/causas/patinhas24 will be up and running till next Friday, 1 March, 6pm. Should you have invested your 10 euros – or indeed more, why not? – by then, we will offer the first 100 donors an online subscription worth 18 euros. Think about it: on top of the personal immaterial gain that you will obtain anyway by aiding an animal you might end up gaining something more.

Uwe Heitkamp (64)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations: Dina Adão, John Elliot, Ruth Correia, Patrícia Lara, Kathleen Becker
Photos: Hasselti – Patinhas sem lar



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