Staff from Animal Rescue Algarve are educating the young people of today to help build a better, kinder future for our animals.
“The future depends on what you do today” – Mahatma Gandhi
Animal Rescue Algarve (ARA) is a fantastic organisation which provides a safe and welcoming shelter for up to 100 dogs and 50 cats. It’s resplendent with heated catteries and kennels, spacious play areas and swimming pools. As important as their work is dealing with the ‘here and now’, their founder and main benefactor, Sid Richardson, knows that finding homes for abandoned and badly treated animals is not enough in itself. As Sid said to me, “Dogs on chains. Abandoned puppies and kittens. Undernourished and poorly treated animals. The key to dealing with this is legislation, education and willpower!’’
Sid is helped in his endeavours by 12 permanent staff and an army of enthusiastic volunteers, including 20 from overseas who live onsite at the Cabanita shelter, on the outskirts of Loulé. His general manager is the charismatic 28-year-old João Ferreira. João lives on-site at the shelter and, in addition to running it, he cares for five impaired dogs of his own. In a groundbreaking initiative, João and his colleagues have reached an agreement with the local council to visit schools and teach children about animal welfare. As João said, “It’s all about changing attitudes amongst the young so that the future will be better for all animals.”
There are two main aspects driving this work with schools. Firstly, the belief that, by educating young people, they will grow up to be responsible adults with a sound understanding of animal welfare. Secondly, they will develop the skills to bring about change, by educating and challenging others, including members of their own families. It is also hoped that by galvanising young people, it will also bring some pressure to bear on local councils, so that they will do more about animal welfare.
A YouTube video (link below) shows Sid, João, and colleagues on a visit to Loulé high school, accompanied by two disabled dogs named Mago and Spirit. João talks to the students and teachers about the work of ARA and provides real-life examples of how animals and people have benefited from developing close, loving relationships. João talks to them about the principles of good animal care they should initiate if they see an animal in distress. There’s an opportunity for the students to ask questions and learn about volunteering at the shelter. They’re energetic and fun visits with children encouraged to interact with the dogs. More than ten schools are currently participating, with more expected to follow.
Sid’s ambition is to expand the educational programme to other areas of the Algarve and perhaps even to the rest of the country. Can they change attitudes throughout Portugal? Now that would be quite something. It’s a bold ambition but Sid and his talented team have already achieved so much, I’ve every confidence that, with their drive and determination, they will help create a better, kinder future for our animals.
+351 289 462 384
Bank Account: PT50.0033.0000.5526891995.05
How you can help
- Make a one-off donation or a regular donation to help pay for food and veterinary care.
- Donate high-quality fashion and/or furniture to a WOOF charity shop (based in Loulé and Almancil). All proceeds go towards the upkeep and development of the shelter.
- Help out at the shelter or at one of the WOOF shops.
- Take out a Legacy Pet Plan whereby for a donation of your choosing, ARA will care for your pet should you no longer be able to.
- Adopt a dog or cat (subject to home checks by the ARA team).