Sweeping New Uplift to Aanifeira’s Operating Threatre

A little over three months ago we received a wonderful surprise when one of our members came to us with a special offer of free stainless steel panelling to be used exclusively for the surgery and prep room walls at our clinic.

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This state-of-the-art stainless steel panelling is produced by the Portuguese company ColdKit Iberico S.A., specializing internationally in insulation products for hospital and laboratory projects as well as supplying the catering industry with an array of stainless steel components.   Not only is stainless steel hygienic and practical for maximum ease of maintenance, cleanliness and thorough disinfection but its resistant to corrosion is everlasting and as well as being environmentally 100% recyclable.  The placement of these panels was also done free of charge by Iso Rodrigues a firm specializing in this type of service in Portugal.

Aanifeira’s first makeshift veterinary clinic began operating out of a shipping container in 2006.  From there work was done on the original old office buildings where many dogs were housed in very poor conditions bringing sweeping new changes to the entire architectural structure. Today with around 66 m2 the building includes a waiting room, two consultation rooms for members’ animals plus one additional consultation room for the shelter animals, a small operating theatre and pre-surgery prep room, medical dispensary room and as well an infirmary/treatment room.

These gradual changes could not have been possible without the generous offers over the years, of sponsors and the behind the scenes help from our volunteers both from Portugal and internationally.  Without them it would have been impossible to achieve what we have today.  Today all the Aanifeira team and volunteers have the opportunity of  working together in this clean environment.

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We are deeply grateful to ColdKit Iberico and Iso Rodrigues for their very generous offers and a special thank you to our Aanifeira member who worked so hard in arranging this fantastic sponsorship.

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The Healing Journey – Abandonment to Adoption

When a large group of 12 small and very terrified dogs of various ages were blatantly abandoned in several small carry boxes at Aanifeira’s doors in 2010, for two young adult males this would prove to be a life changing passage to a new life in another country.

Marley November 2010

Marley November 2010

The two dogs in question, named by shelter staff as Bob and Marley (read here about their start), due to their long and disheveled coats, would prove to be one of the shelter’s biggest challenges.  It was obvious from the start that Bob and Marley had suffered from extreme ill-treatment as they were literally terrified of humans and any approach from staff would leaving them cringing in the corner sometimes lashing out and biting in defense!

Bob November 2010

Bob November 2010

With a grim future ahead given their nature, various volunteers and staff took it upon themselves to work in trying to socialize these little dogs.  Appeals were also made to experienced animal owners/trainers for help in their socialization or to anyone who would be willing to take them into a home environment to work closely with them.

Bob & MarleyFB

Over time some improvement in their behaviour was noticed, particularly with Bob who would approach rather than hiding however any future adoption looked very slim for these two beautiful little dogs.  Although in size they were appealing we couldn’t risk someone adopting and then returning the animals back into the shelter environment causing an even more devastating effect on these dogs.  Our greatest desire was that someone somewhere would hear of their story and come to their ‘rescue’.

Quite by chance in October 2013, we received an email from two girls Liz Wolting and Lenny, specialists in dog training and working as animal behavioural consultants in the Netherlands, asking if they could come to our shelter for one day to visit and help out!  Our answer was ‘YES’ and the girls arrived fully prepared for working with our more problematic animals.   We couldn’t believe it when Liz told us that she ran a shelter for animals specializing in rehabilitation, boarding, dog school and grooming salon called Animal’s Faith in Maastricht, Holland.

We explained our situation with Bob and Marley along with a couple of other cases and the girls immediately got to work in shifting the animals around into different boxes rather than having them all in one box as we had done in the past.  The change was dramatic for Bob & Marley as they were able to socialize with other friendlier dogs of all sizes and ages and their behaviour changed overnight!  Although there was a change we still thought that anyone who adopted them would not be experienced enough to cope and keep up this work.  Liz and Lenny ended up spending a couple of days with us to help out and leaving us with tips on how to continue with Bob and Marley’s new behavioural program.

This didn’t end here though, Liz had a soft spot for these two dogs and as progress was slow in improving their natures she agreed to adopt them and work with them in Holland! This was what we had been waiting for so the ‘boys’ were prepared and in February of 2014 they were flown to Holland to Liz’s safe keeping.

Liz has kept us continually up to date on how they have progressed and the images of their first days in Holland together with the short film showing the complete change in Bob’s nature are proof enough of her wonderful and patient work with them.

Today Marley has been adopted and Bob awaits his turn.  We are deeply grateful to Liz and Lenny for firstly choosing to contact us out of the blue with their kind offer to help us out at the shelter and finally to YOU Liz for taking the boys to Holland and healing their spirits giving them a new lease in life.  Our special thanks to you both!

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Aanifeira sharing Easter with Sonia around the world 2015

We at Aanifeira wish all our friends around the world a very Happy Easter.

Pictured below is our very elderly and blind Podenga dog Sonia now living in France getting right in the Easter spirit.  This amazing dog after so many years of living in a shelter finally found her forever home in 2012 with a wonderful carer.  Our thanks to carer for sharing this image.

More on Sonia’s story can be read here.

Sonia Easter 2015 5 April


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Scouts Help Bring Shade to Aanifeira Dog Parks

DSCN6015 (NXPowerLite)It was the perfect pre-spring day last Saturday March 14th for a small group of  4 girl scouts (caminheiras) and their leader (chefe) from the Agrupamento 610 Grijó (Mosteiro), located just 16 kms north of Aanifeira, who arrived in the afternoon to plant young fruit trees in the exercise parks at Aanifeira.  The selection of trees, all donated by a member, included cherry, pear and some olive all of which are well adapted to the northern Portuguese climate.

DSCN5979 (NXPowerLite)The group came fully prepared for hard work and after a brief explanation quickly got down to digging holes in difficult terrain followed by watering, planting and finally putting up some recycled strong netting as protection in early growth days.  The task took most of the afternoon after which, at their request, they were given a tour and explanation on the running of the shelter to see both the dogs and cats.

With loads of enthusiasm and an obvious desire to help out, the group initially contacted Aanifeira to find out what our necessities were and with this in mind they produced their own flyer for a fundraiser in their community to be held very soon.

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Our very grateful thanks to this scout group from the Agrupamento 610 Grijó as this small deed will, in the future, help to provide a good source of shade for the animals during the hot summers as well as additionally giving some fruit produce for staff and volunteers!


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World Greyhound (Galgo) Day – 1st February

facebook-profileFebruary 1stThis is a day that we shouldn’t have to remember!  But due to the cruelty of a nation that totally disrespects the welfare of animals, it is essential that everyone joins forces in a worldwide effort to draw attention to the atrocious treatment of the Greyhounds or Galgos as they are known in Spain.

This text has been taken from http://www.diadelgalgo.com/




Galgos are mainly used for hunting or coursing hare. The Galgos lead a short and brutal existence in Spain where they are mainly used for hunting or coursing hare. During the annual hunting season that runs from October to January, many live in cramped dark sheds when they are not coursing, spending their days confined and neglected. Training techniques are barbaric and include towing Galgos from cars, trucks and motorcycles at high speeds.


Abused Galgos – Photo courtesy Dia Del Galgo

Known as Galgueros, hunters dispose of Galgos at the end of hunting season in the most horrific ways imaginable… hung from trees, thrown into wells, starved, beaten to death or abandoned. It is estimated that thousands of Galgos are killed every year.

A favorite among hunters to dispose of unwanted Galgos is called “piano playing”. The Galgo is tied around the neck and hung in a tree so that the poor dog barely reaches the ground with its hind paws, trying to balance and “dancing” back and forth with the back legs and paws, barely on the ground, to avoid strangulation. Being killed in this way is a slow death and that the dog experiences panic, anxiety, despair and unimaginable pain. The suffocation can take hours and sometimes even days. In the end, when the Galgo can no longer manage to stand on its hind legs, exhausted in the snare, the dog finally suffocates to death.

If merely abandoned, they are purposely crippled so that they cannot physically return to the hunter. Those that survive abandonment languish in state-run shelters where they inevitably die.

The excessive, uncontrolled breeding and mass abandonment of dogs at the end of hunting season leaves a massive population of starving and sick dogs.

Associations in Spain, rescue and rehabilitate as many dogs as possible so that they have a chance at a future and a forever home. The Galgo is a truly precious breed. Although not considered pets by Galgueros, they are wonderful companions and eternally grateful for a second chance.

So please join us on this plight to help these animals! Spread the word….



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A Merry Christmas to Aanifeira Friends Around the World

To ALL our friends and followers, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  May all those involved in animal welfare throughout the world continue in 2015 to have the strength, resilience and patience to keep up their wonderful work.

Sonia one of very senior dogs now adopted and living in France.

Sonia one of our very senior dogs now adopted and living in France.

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Aanifeira joins the EU Dog and Cat Alliance


Aanifeira is very pleased to announce that it has become a member of the EU Dog and Cat Alliance.  The Alliance, newly launched on October 6th at the 16th International Companion Animal Welfare Conference (ICAWC) in Istanbul, has today 31 member organisations from across the European Union all of whom play an important role in dog and cat welfare in their own countries.

image42Sadly here in Europe there is currently little EU legislation to protect dogs and cats and the different member states are dealing with such issues as illegal breeding and trade, selective breeding, illegal movement across borders, inefficiencies with registering veterinary medicines etc.  With this in mind, the new Alliance was formed as a voice for all organizations to call for EU action in building a better Europe for these animals.

Major focus of the Alliance will be placed on these issues calling for:

Commercial Breeding and Trade

  • EU legislation requiring the compulsory permanent identification and registration of dogs and cats on an appropriate database, which is linked to an EU database.
  • EU legislation requiring the licensing of dog and cat breeders by Member States.

Movement across borders

  • EU legislation requiring the compulsory permanent identification and registration of dogs and cats on an appropriate database, which is linked to an EU database.
  • The proper enforcement of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

Veterinary Medicines and Medicated Feed

  • The introduction of a true single market for veterinary medicines.

image44With the sole aim of improving animal welfare of dogs and cats, members will work together in monitoring and lobbying the European Union to introduce and improve EU legislation by engaging with other key EU stakeholders collaborating wherever possible; providing a forum for the sharing of information on these issues between members;  gathering evidence on dog and cat issues producing reports and briefings to support the Alliance’s position.

Aanifeira is absolutely delighted to have joined this Alliance and be part of a movement that will work to improve the conditions of the future of companion animals in Europe and hopefully help to provide a platform that will spread awareness on this issue around the world.   We hope that our work will reflect on the generations ahead of us that we need to preserve and respect all animal life.

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New Vet Susana Joins Aanifeira Veterinary Team

susana 4We are delighted to announce that Susana Abreu has joined the Aanifeira veterinary team working alongside head vet Claudia Valadares at the Aanifeira veterinary clinic.

Susana began her veterinary studies at the University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) where she completed her course in 2009.

From there she moved to Spain, based in Barcelona and Cadiz, doing various internships lasting around six months or so, working with not only companion animals but also with horses.

Susana 1She then started work at the Hospital Veterinário de Montenegro working with companion animals.  This very reputable veterinary hospital also operates a series of courses for qualified veterinarians wishing to gain additional knowledge in special fields such as:  Surgery, Advanced Ultrasound, X-Ray, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Soft Tissue Surgery and Dermatology.

Interestingly the clinical team at this hospital, together with internationally renowned experts in the field of feline medicine, launched their new book “Gato sem Segredos” (Cat without Secrets) at the Porto Municipal chambers on June 29th, 2014.    The main goal, besides exposing the topics covered in the book, was to raise public awareness of the importance and increasing relevance of the cat as a pet.

From there Susana moved to working in two private veterinary clinics, first in Porto and then in another within the Santa Maria da Feira council before joining Aanifeira in May of this year.

Susana 3Susana’s special interests lie in dermatology, ultrasound and internal medicine.  She joins Claudia in the day to day clinical attendance with members’ pets and attending to the shelter animals.

She also works as an instructor with the veterinary internship students that Aanifeira receives from around the world.  With students coming from many different universities of various levels of curriculums it can be quite challenging for the vets in their day to day work but they take it in their stance handling it with ease and professionalism.


We are very pleased to have Susana on board at the clinic and warmly welcome her to our team.



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Contributing to World Animal Day 2014

wadToday, October 4th, is WORLD ANIMAL DAY (WAD) and for us at Aanifeira it is one of the days that always brings to light the number of animals that we rescue throughout the year and what we go through each day to ensure that each animal gets the right care and love that it deserves.  For all at the shelter, including our international veterinary volunteers, everyone gives their time unselfishly in helping and caring for these beautiful creatures and we are all proud to be able to share this day with everyone.

WAD 2014 for us had an extremely busy workload with not only our veterinary clinic working non-stop throughout the day attending the public but also a huge behind the scenes effort that went in to ensure that each animal at the shelter had treatment and was fed and exercised.  The daily routine of feeding and cleaning close to 400 dogs and 60 cats was equaled with this additional routine for the more fragile residents at the shelter:

Bottle and syringe feeding two groups of 5 abandoned kittens on a three hourly basis.  One group only around 10 days old and found abandoned in a plot of land with their eyes still closed and the other group about three weeks old dropped outside our premises this week with larvae already beginning to penetrate their tiny bodies.

10 day old kittens

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Three week old kittens (cared for by two 5th yr Dutch student vets, Loes and Kylie from Utrech University in Holland).

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Hand feeding a tiny puppy, one of two (one sadly died with anal larvae infestation), which were abandoned at our door this week.

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Taking in two extremely beautiful adult cats previously adopted from Aanifeira in 2010 and very sadly returned to the shelter today by one of the owners due to a marriage breakup.  It is incredibly hard to understand such rash decisions as it is always the animal that suffers in these situations.  After assessment the pair were given a clean bill of health but it was easy to see that both remained frightened and uneasy in this new environment.

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Caring, with a special food program, for an emaciated Podengo (Portuguese breed – for more information read here) female dog, with a leg injury (possibly from being hit by a car), found lying under one of the shelter staff’s car this week.

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Ensuring that a small abandoned dog, that walked into a travel agency in a larger town close by and which was handed into the shelter, was treated for his coat loss problem as well as being given some socialization.

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Small female puppy abandoned on a street corner right next to the shelter this week. Below with her carer Kylie, 5th year veterinary student from Holand


But with all these woes we had a ray of light today when one of our volunteers, Vanessa, arrived with a huge array of donations (cleaning products, dogs snacks, rugs, towels, feeding bottles, gifts for putting up for sale) for the shelter to celebrate WAD.  She also bought along a delicious cake helping to lift moral on such a busy day at the shelter. Vanessa is not only a volunteer but also an adoptee and she bought along her two dogs to the shelter, one of which, Lili (white one), was abandoned in an appalling state close to the shelter.  Our special thanks to her for her kindness in remembering us.   Photos below of Vanessa and her dogs and with Paulo, Aanifeira’s shelter manager.

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Last weekend, 27 & 28th September, as well Aanifeira participated in the annual national Animal Life WAD companion animal food campaign at the Continente chain of hypermarkets.  Two days of manning the stand from 09h00 – 23h00 and providing animal welfare awareness to local people as well as collecting donations provided the shelter with a much needed boost of food and other products for dog and cats.

Animal Life

Tonight in closing WORLD ANIMAL DAY, Aanifeira has invited everyone to join them at the Bar Porta13 in Santa Maria da Feira for a celebration party.  Part of the night’s proceeds will be donated to Aanifeira in helping to provide better conditions for the abandoned animals that it takes in.  Our special thanks go out  to the Bar Porta13 for this fantastic initiative.

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And finally to bring awareness to the meaning of WORLD ANIMAL DAY a fantastic step forward, that from 1st October 2014, Portugal introduced a new law enforcing the criminalization of abuse and neglect of companion animals.  Despite the limitations of the law, this is without doubt an important civilizational step for this country and follows the majority of the other EU countries in the field of animal protection.

AANIFEIRA proud to be part of WORLD ANIMAL DAY for 2014.

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Catching up with Old Friends

We love catching up and hearing from the people who have adopted animals from Aanifeira.  It can be from Portugal or in a foreign country and one person who constantly keeps us updated on her dog is Betty from France.  Betty adopted a beautiful old and blind Podengo (Portuguese breed of dog) called Sonia a little over three years ago.

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Sonia’s story is very sad one as no one was absolutely sure where she came from or when she actually entered into Aanifeira.  In those days life was not easy for the dogs living at the shelter and fortunately Sonia was one of the hardier ones living in a corridor of the pavilion yet barely leaving her bed that she treasured so much.    It would take a lot of coaxing to get her outside into the sunshine to spend time enjoying her surroundings as well as socializing with people.

Although conditions generally were not the best there was always love and a helping hand from those who cared – the volunteers.  The volunteers showed that they cared about the welfare of the animals and wanted to help the original founder of the shelter who deep in her heart only wanted the very best for the dogs.  So with a lot of very hard work and understanding between all, things gradually improved eventually bringing the shelter to what it is today.

Betty adopted Sonia just over three years and her story can be read here. She regularly she keeps us updated throughout the year on her health always sending a beautiful photo with each email.

Here below are Betty’s comments each time she send us an email and photo.  We do so enjoy receiving this and it still brings tears to our eyes to see this beautiful elderly and blind dog who received a new life when a kind lady heard about her and came to the shelter to give her a forever home.

8 Sept 2014

“Little old Sonia, she is still going strong. Also her evening rituals with moaning, and we trying to figure out what she wants, food, drink, outside.  We have to guide her more often down the steps, she slowly is getting a bit lost in her mind. but she still enjoys cuddling and is, we think, happy in her own way.”

23 July 2014

“Still going strong, despite the tics, problems with balance and blindness, she is still doing well.  She clearly indicates when she wants something to eat, drink, wants to pee or wants a cuddle. Of course it is an old dog and you know there will be a time that you have to say goodbye. But for now she is safe and enjoys her old age in love.   Sonia;  the door opens to the left :-)”

14 May 2014

“Sonia is doing well, she loves her food twice a day and can clean my plate every night.  Her ritual the last couple of days has become a bit less, event hough she still gets up after dinner 3-4 times, wants to drink, get off, a bit of food, a bit of drink again and then sleep.

Rolling in her chair, stroking her tummy, she loves it and enjoy the attention.  Her tics are getting worse and she scared of the differences in light, as going outside and getting a shade in her face, she startles and gets a tic.  I have to hold her till it’s gone and then she walks a bit around and seems not to worry.”

2 April 2014

“Old Sonia, she sleeps all day but in the evening she now has a strange ‘ritual’.  Around 19h she gets up in her chair, I lift her out, sometimes she wants to go out, sometimes she wants to drink and then back in the chair.  This goes on till around 22h, getting up, wanting a drink, wanting something to eat, wanting to get off, wanting a hug, very restless, panting and not wanting to lay down.  This is only in the night and never during the day. Around 22h it is done and she goes to sleep and sleeps all night through.”

4 March 2014

Thankyou for being my foster Mom/Dad

22 January 2014

“With Sonia things are pretty well again luckily.  She sleeps a lot but eats fine and clearly states when she wants to go outside. Now is that she wants to go out 3-4 times in the evening, after dinner she always goes out, but then 2 hours later she wants to go again and one hour later again.  Before she goes to sleep she get some dry food and when I forget she starts to whine.  As medication she is getting Enurace and Candilat which are both expensive medicines so your support for her remains very welcome.”

26 December 2013

” With thanks for all that you have done for me this year.”

5 November 2013

” Yesterday evening around 6 pm Sonia gave up her food. W hen she later drank some water , she threw this out after half an hour too.  The rest of the evening she was quiet, before bedtime she got some dry food and this stayed in.

This night at half past three I heard Sonia moaning so I took her off the chair and she went out by herself, did a pee and then seemed to have some trouble with the stairs so I helped her.  Once inside she could not stand , she fell over and sank to her feet . I put her in her chair and I sit with her.  Because I was still worried , I put her on my bed , but since she is not used to this she remained making little squeaks and moans.  After an hour I put her back in her chair, she went to sleep.  Then , of course, I did not really slept and looked several times during the rest of the night if she was fine but she was in deep sleep.”

This morning I put her outside where she fell over and her legs subsided, I had to hold her to pee but she could not take any step  without falling.   Called the vet and he came at half past nine.

By now it was already a lot better with her and she could walk by herself in the waiting room . The vet  checked her, heart was good, little inflammation in eye , no fever so probably very likely a TIA caused by geriatric vestibular syndrome.   She has had an injection of Candilat and must now take 2x a day a Candilat pill.

She is now back fast asleep.  It was a shock because even though she is old, we really do not want to lose her.”

29 October 2013

“Herewith an update and new photo of Sonia.  She is doing well, she eats well, clearly indicates when she wants to go off her chair and stil knows how to get the attention.  In the evening after the last pee she gets some food, because she does not go into the kitchen, she gets them on her chair and stands waiting till we give them to her.  She is now 2,5 years with us and I am still happy every day that I went to get her in Portugal.  Sonia is an example of how you sometimes have to accept that a dog makes the choice what makes him of her happy, in her case, living safe and warm in her own big chair.”

11 September 2013 – Greetings

August 2013

“Already 2 years with us, sweet Sonia. Oh she can fool us and we have to laugh so much. She stands up in her chair and gives little squeaks. Normally the sign that she wants to go off to pee or drink. But more often these days, she waits till you reach her and when you want to lift her, she falls over on her back and she wants you to rub her tummy. When you stop she grabs your arms with her paws, no no go on now!   Love Betty and Sonia”

Below is a slideshow of all the photos that she has sent us throughout the past year and half.

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Aanifeira Veterinarian Sara Seeks New Horizons

Sara1We would like to announce that after spending two years working at our clinic, we were very sorry to see veterinarian Sara Latourrette leave Aanifeira at the end of May this year.  Sara took the decision to move on to embrace her career even further.

When Sara joined Aanifeira in April 2012 (read more here), her veterinary background had taken her both near and far.  She moved straight into working long hours at the clinic with a very busy timetable, alongside our other vet Claudia Valadares.  Together the girls made an enviable team in providing consultations, performing surgeries and treatments and handling emergencies on both members’ animals and the shelter animals.  All was done with poise, sympathy, professionalism and above all with compassion towards the animals that were treated.

Carlien group with Sara

Belgian Vet Students with Sara and Claudia – July 2014

In addition, together with Claudia, they received and help train the steady flow of veterinary student vets from around the world that we receive through our International Volunteer Internship scheme.   She not only was their teacher but their best friend, offering them advice, taking them out and ensuring that they enjoyed their stay whilst here in Portugal.

We had, of course, been very used to having Sara at our clinic but of course understand that she must take the step in the right direction that she thinks is best for her.  We will remember her for her huge smile and kind and gentle nature.

She has now taken up a position as head veterinarian at a new veterinary clinic not very far away from Aanifeira.  We feel sure that the experience she gained at our shelter clinic has improved her skills and enriched her background giving her the credentials to provide professional services to those who engage her in the future.

Sara we miss you and wish you the very best of luck for the future!  Good friends come and go but we always remain friends at Aanifeira.  Thank you from us all.

Sara2          Sara3

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Aanifeira Participates in World Spay Day 2014

On February 24th, Aanifeira once again, proudly participated in the World Spay Day 2014 event sponsored by the Humane Society International.  This year proved to be a milestone being the 20th annual World Spay Day and was the most successful to-date with 600 event organizers from around the world hosting hundreds of events to raise awareness of the importance of spay/neutering.

world-spay-day-2014-logosThe importance and impact of a simple gesture such as spaying and neutering can lower birth rates and help reduce the number of animals who will face euthanasia in shelters or death on streets.  The Humane Society provides a chance for all of those involved in animal welfare to join forces in helping to put an end to this suffering.

Aanifeira participated this year with a 3 day event in a program to spay/neuter 19 animals (10 cats & 9 dogs) which came from low income families who in normal circumstances could not afford to have their animals done.

Surgeries were performed in the small veterinary clinic within the shelter under the supervision of our own vets with excellent results and all animals were safely returned to their protectors after the procedure.  As Aanifeira has an ongoing international program for volunteer veterinary students, we were fortunate to have the valuable help of two veterinary volunteers, one from the United Kingdom and the other from Holland.


In appreciation of our efforts, the Humane Society International awarded Aanifeira with their ‘Certificates of Appreciation’ for Dogs and Cats for raising awareness to the lifesaving benefits of spay/neuter.

We will be back for World Spay Day 2015 on February 24th to join the Humane Society International in their dedicated task of educating people around the world and improving the lives of animals worldwide.


 100203 Aanifeira Assoc Amigos dos Animais da Feira dog-page-0         100203 Aanifeira Assoc Amigos dos Animais da Feira cat-page-0 (1)

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Skoda & Yoda – New Life, New Home – Together!

It isn’t always that we have a double adoption from a same family at Aanifeira, but last Saturday was an exception when two very beautiful orange and white cats were finally given a new opportunity in life together.



Skoda and Yoda are two sisters who were left by their owners at Aanifeira a little over a year ago due to an allergy problem that their daughter suffered from.  Their life had been far from a bed of roses as they were confined to a small verandah for the entire time void of little or any human contact.



It was obvious from the beginning that they were deeply attached to each other and our ambition was always to have them adopted as a pair as they were not young and would most certainly miss each other.  The sisters would not let each other out of one another’s sight sometimes shying away from too much confusion and noise.

Initially the new cattery was not ready when they arrived but a few months later in March when it was, they were part of the first group of cats to move in and have a large box to themselves.  They were regularly let out by our volunteers who worked in helping to socialize them and build a trust in humans.  It wasn’t long before these two sisters were craving cuddles and became real lap cats.

Ana Rita and husband

Ana Rita and husband

When Ana Rita and her husband walked through the door asking to adopt Skoda and Yoda, we could hardly believe our eyes!  They came with a mission to help these two cats and their gentleness and care showed immediately even though sisters were a little hesitant of all the excitement.

Our sincerest thanks go out to them for showing the care in taking in an adult animal and not wanting to separate these two beautiful cats.

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Aanifeira & The Body Shop Foundation United in a Cause

JPEG BODY SHOPAanifeira is extremely proud to announce that The Body Shop Foundation has chosen to support this association through their Dragon Fruit Lip Butter Grants Programme activity for Animal Protection.

dragonfruit-lip-butterThe Body Shop Foundation is a charitable company which operates closely with The Body Shop International.   It provides money to innovative, global projects working for a positive social and environmental change. Funding is through the sale of a charity product, Dragon Fruit Lip Butter, which is sold globally in the stores of The Body Shop and through various fundraising activities.  Three different grants programmes are covered addressing issues such as animal protection, human rights and environmental protection around the world.

During Body Shop in-store promotions, customers are asked to vote for their favourite charity.  The group with the most votes wins the majority of the profits from the in-store product, Dragon Fruit Lip Butter whilst the groups with the second and third votes receive a sliding scale of profits.

Dragon Lip Butter Product:  Buy our super-moisturising Dragon Fruit Lip Butter online or in-store and 100% of the profits will be split across our selected charities.  Buy now and enjoy luscious lips and a warm feeling inside. Look good, feel good, do good!


To date, Aanifeira has already received two donations through these store promotions, the funding of which will go towards increasing the number of boxes in the cattery.  The first phase of Aanifeira’s cattery (read up here) was opened in March of 2013 however, given that this initial stage was small to start with and that there was space to expand, international funding was sought to expand the cattery.  The increase in abandoned cats and kittens in Portugal contributes to a huge amount of pressure on resources at many shelters in this country.  With this invaluable help from The Body Shop Foundation, we at Aanfeira, can continue our work in providing a safe haven for these animals with the proper follow-up care that is necessary for them to succeed into an adoption scheme.

Work has already begun on the new boxes as can be seen below:-

Cattery4 Cattery3 Cattery1r

timthumbThis year, The Body Shop Foundation celebrates 25 years of support and funding for charities and projects that are working for a positive social change.  We would like to extend our sincerest congratulations and thanks to them for their strong committment and achievements to the many needy causes that they contribute to around the world.

Posted in Animal Foundations, Animal Shelter, Animal Welfare, The Body Shop Foundation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Aanifeira & The Body Shop Foundation United in a Cause

1st Conference on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats in the EU

Logo EU ConferenceAanifeira had the privilege of attending the very 1st Conference on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats in the EU held on October 28th at the Charlemagne Building in Brussels.  The conference, presented by the European Commission and the Lithuanian Presidency and supported by Eurogroup for Animals, The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and VIER PFOTEN International is aimed at “Building a Europe that cares for companion animals”.

With an astounding over 100 million dogs and cats in the European Union, for many of these animals they are not just a companion but a source of income.  From food and medicines to cosmetics and luxuries, a major industry has been developed, dedicated to the breeding and upkeep of companion animals.  From the rise in animal commerce other problems have evolved i.e. genetic selection, puppy farming, mutilations and inhumane disposal which have far reaching consequences for pet welfare, public health and consumer protection in the EU.  Unfortunately there is no harmonized legislation that addresses the welfare concerns of these animals.

In drawing EU member countries together, this first conference aimed at providing all stakeholders: government authorities, NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and those with a professional or private interest, to join forces in discussing and reflecting on issues relating to companion animal welfare with a view to establishing a means of identifying and tackling the key issues.  The conference provided a starting block for a study into the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices giving the EU commission an opportunity of considering what further action is necessary to improve animal welfare.

Dog and cat trade is currently regulated by EU animal and public health rules but no specific ER legalisation addressing welfare related issues exists and their protection remains under the responsibility of Member States.  In parallel, existing national and EU rules applicable to dogs and cats are not necessarily properly implemented.

We in Portugal look forward to seeing what first steps this congress will bring in battling with the rising problem of strays, backyard breeders, unlicensed animals, irresponsible ownership and health issues.

The presentations at the conference were organised around three major themes:

  1. Legislation on companion animals in Europe
  2. Breeding and trade of companion animals:  business as usual?
  3. Building a Europe that cares for companion animals: tools and perspectives.

The conference agenda and presentations can all be viewed on this link and the ‘webstreaming’ link gives the entire day’s conference filmed.

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Fairytale Ending for Senior Shelter Dog

DSC01489This is Pa a senior girl who came into the care of Aanifeira many years ago. Unfortunately we know very little of Pa’s past.  Where she came from? Was she stray? Where she was found?  Who owned her?  All a mystery.  Her soft and gentle nature however always showed through and she would spend her life peacefully living with two other dogs in her box.   When volunteers were on duty she would eagerly look forward to being exercised in the outside parks and being cuddled and groomed.   It was saddening to think that as she grew older and became a senior that she would never experience the life of having a home and owner who loved and cared for her.

One day however Pa’s luck changed.  February 2013 brought two Dutch veterinarian students called Francisa and Mirke who were studying at Gent University in Belgium, came to Aanifeira to do an internship at the clinic.   The girls came for a two week period working alongside the Aanifeira veterinarians and it was during their time with us here that they fell in love with Pa!  We however only found this out in June of this year when Francisca and Mirke wrote a beautiful note to us as follows:

“Dear Aanifeira,

Me, Francisca van der Bij, and my friend Mirke Sluiter did an internship in the beginning of February this year at Aanifeira. We loved working with the people from Aanifeira and the animals from the shelter. We also fell a little bit in love with your sweet dog Pa. After long consideration we would love to adopt her. But there are a few things we need to know about Pa before we can adopt her. How is Pa doing at the moment and is she still in the shelter? We don’t know her age which would be nice. Also we have a cat in our house and we don’t know how she reacts to cats. We live in Belgium so for transportation we were thinking about coming to Portugal by car at the end of September. Is Pa healthy enough to travel by car and is she accustomed to traveling in a car? We hope to hear from you soon and we hope that Pa and all the other animals from the shelter are doing well.

with kind regards,

When we read this news we were ecstatic but concerned as Pa´s health had begun to deteriorate.  Although she had a strong heart she had developed arthritis and had some difficulty in faster movements.  She had become thin and was being treated for an ongoing ear infection.  All of this needed to be weighed up by Francisca and Mirke before they made their decision.  But fortunately this DID NOT deter them.  The girls had firmly made up their minds!

As promised, in September they drove from Belgium to Portugal to come and pick up Pa and take her home with them and an email received today from the girls tells all:

“We have a lot of picture’s of Pa so I just send most of them. Everything is going great with Pa. So far she has been with us to San Sebastian in Spain, to the beach in south of France, an old forest and castle in France, to the woods in Groningen in Holland, to my home town Woerden in Holland and of course in Gent in Belgium where we live. She loves going for a walk, she has gotten a lot stronger in her legs and can walk for 30-45 minutes at a normal speed now. We have been giving her puppy food so that she will put om some weight and she put on 1 kilo so far. We also went to a dermatologist to look at her ears and after intensive antibiotic treatment her ear infection is finally gone. Also the little knob she had on her chest turns out to be just a skin polyp. She has gotten a lot more active and loves to get attention from everyone around her. She is great with all of the dogs she met so far because she is such a sweetheart. Both Mirke and I love her a lot and she loves all the hugs she is getting. She also loves sleeping in her warm dog basket and sniffing around in our garden. Pa is totally worth the big to Portugal. Thanks again for all your help and everybody else at Aanifeira.”

What more can we say only that it is wonderful that some people put their hearts and souls into adopting a senior companion animal which is not always 100% healthy and they do everything in their power to provide a few years of quality life.

2013-11-24 14.08.17

Pa enjoying her new transport!

Our deepest thanks go out to Francisca and Mirke for giving our Pa a second chance in life and believing that an older dog is definitely worthwhile adopting.  The photos below tell all.  Enjoy…

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Posted in Animal Shelter, Senior Dog Adoption | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Helping Shelter Dogs in the U.S.

Although we are based in Portugal this doesn’t mean to say that we don’t care about our four legged shelter friends in other parts of the world.   All of us have a goal in mind – to help a shelter dog in everyway possible and where ever they are.  Well here’s how all of you in the U.S. can do this.

During the holiday season DogVacay is focusing fully on helping shelter dogs as they believe that no one should go hungry, least of all our four-legged friends.   To help a shelter dog have a meal all that is needed is to sign up to the DogVacay page during October and they will donate the meal.

So, take a minute quickly before the end of this month and click on the link to bring a big SMILE to a shelter dog’s face, like our own Era (below) from Aanifeira, and offer a meal to a hungry animal through DogVacay.  You’ll feel so good when you remember that you have done something to help some one!

Era 1

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The 15th International Companion Animal Welfare Conference

icawc-logo[1]The 15th International Companion Animal Welfare Conference (ICAWC 2013), hosted by Dogs Trust International, U.K.’s largest dog welfare charity, was held this week from 14-16 October in Barcelona, Spain.  Barcelona with its coastal location, Mediterranean climate and famous and unique contemporary art made it not only an interesting location but extremely relaxed for a conference such as this.

Aanifeira’s President Victor Barros and myself  had the pleasure of attending this conference for a 3rd time where Clarissa Baldwin, O.B.E., Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, welcomed a huge amount of over 300 delegates from around the world.  The program introduced speakers giving talks and workshops covering an extensive range of subjects which included: international animal welfare, veterinary diseases, shelters and fostering, welfare assessment and quality of life for animals, hoarding and the problems it brings, community actions in using animals as a tool in therapy programs for the lonely and young offenders, euthanasia, ask the expert – animal behaviour, digital ideas, lobbying in Europe, how to create a happy and productive workplace and of course the issue of continued importance of spaying and neutering in the world today.

The wealth of information given by the international speakers was just amazing and for many non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) such as Aanifeira, to have this sort of feedback and backing from Dogs Trust International means that far more can be accomplished and that most importantly WE ARE NOT ALONE in our work!

Together with these lectures, several international guest speakers came and shared some of their amazing success stories in helping animals such as:  dog welfare in Roma gypsy communities in Slovenia, network saving and rehoming the mistreated greyhounds and podencos of Spain with the program Galgos112, creating the Mdzandanda Animal Clinic in the large and troubled township of  Khayelitsha on the Western Cape of South Africa plus the largest TNR program for cats and dogs in Portugal which is run by the NGO Animais da Rua and has today neutered over 12,000 animals throughout the country!  Such inspirational and heartwarming stories where local communities are willingly joining the NGO’s and sharing in animal welfare and enjoying the benefits that animals can bring.

Snip IntlEach year also Snip International has a stand at the ICAWC conference and they donate to shelters and rescue groups, along with MDC Exports (dedicated to animal welfare and involved in veterinary, animal rescue and humane control) and Cats Protection (UK charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming stray, unwanted or homeless cats and educating people about cats and cat welfare), specialist equipment for use in trap/catch-neuter-return programmes.   Aanifeira was very lucky to receive a pair of Animal Handling Gauntlet Protection Gloves from MDC Exports that are designed to restrain an animal in difficult circumstances.

Our special thanks to Dogs Trust International for giving, not only ourselves at Aanifeira, but all the NGO’s and people around the world the opportunity of networking and sharing this kind of information which is of the utmost importance for everyone to continue their dedicated work in animal welfare.

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Aequor Acreditation as Foreign Training Company

We are delighted to inform that the Dutch company Aequor, which is the Centre of Expertise for the Dutch food and environment sectors,  has nominated Aanifeira as a recognized foreign training company.

With a validity until 9th September 2017, this recognition will allow Aanifeira to train foreign students as part of their secondary vocational education in the food and environmental sector.

As a non-profit and no-kill animal welfare shelter this brings huge benefits for young students giving them the opportunity to come and work in an environment that is not always easy and which entails much hard work but in the long run is incredibly rewarding!  With limited resources and labour, having young and enthusiastic students can bring a lighter note to these difficult times.

Aanifeira is proud to partner with Aequor in training young people and, at the same time, help teach awareness on animal welfare in the world today.

Certificate as a Recognised Training Company

Certificate as a Recognised Training Company

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41 Dogs Get a New Opportunity in Life

It was a proud day for Aanifeira yesterday when 41 dogs, the majority of them puppies and young dogs, were removed from the local pound, Canil Intermunicipal da Associação de Municípios das Terras de Santa Maria (CIAMTSM) and relocated into the shelter to 12 newly completed boxes – a continuation of the Brigitte Bardot Sector (completed in July 2011).

The local pound, CIAMTSM, works in rescuing and taking in unwanted and abandoned dogs and cats from 5 different town councils in the north of Portugal – Arouca, Oliveira de Azeméis, Santa Maria da Feira, São João da Madeira e Vale de Cambra covering a total area of 859 m2.   They work tirelessly in coping with the never-ending tidal wave of forgotten, ignored and ill-treated animals that roam the streets and in particular taking in pregnant bitches who then will often give birth in the pound.

Caring for lactating bitches and puppies brings increased pressure on all the CIAMTSM’s resources and Aanifeira has been attempting to help out by taking in, from time to time, some of these animals when a box at the shelter becomes available.  The CIAMTSM also have their own very successful adoption and placement scheme in practice which allows many animals a new opportunity in life.

DSC05769Aanifeira’s greatest wish has been to create enough space with comfortable boxes to be able to work with the CIAMTSM in taking in some of its more vulnerable animals.   Last week this became possible when 12 new boxes, which were the result of a lot of hard work and fundraising from all parts, were completed along the same lines in a continuation of the 13 boxes making up part of the Brigitte Bardot Sector.  With spaciousness in both an undercover and outside area and viewing windows for visitors, these boxes are easy to clean and maintain.  With a huge sense of satisfaction, Aanifeira’s President, Victor Barros, was able to go to the pound yesterday to collect the 41 new residents and bring them to their new home.

Yesterday was check-in for the newcomers and today has been very busy for the veterinary team, Claudia Valadares and Sara Latourrette, plus animal nursing assistant Kelly and four volunteer 3rd year veterinary students here on a two week internship from Glasgow University, with giving each animal a name (so important!), complete health check-up and follow-up information or medication as necessary.  Spaying, neutering, deworming, vaccinations, special diets are just some of what these dogs will be requiring over the coming weeks.  We can hardly wait for possible future adoptees to see these animals.

Lindsey & Emily from Glasgow University with Kelly, Aanifeira's Animal Nursing Assistant do the firt check-ups

Lindsey & Emily from Glasgow University with Kelly, Aanifeira’s Animal Nursing Assistant doing the first check-ups

Get s sneak preview of the new residents taken today.

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Posted in Adoptions, Animal Abuse, Animal Shelter, Animal Welfare, Uncategorized, Veterinarians, Volunteers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments