My day at Aanifeira last Saturday was unexpectedly rewarding when, at around mid morning, two teenage girls turned up wanting to speak to a member of staff of the possibility of visiting the shelter and filming an interview.
It was one of those days when everyone was very busy, Paulo attending to members in the clinic waiting room and Victor working on the electricity and water supply for our newly built volunteer and staff members’ rooms. Admittedly too, it wasn’t a good day for volunteers with our turn out being zero due to upcoming school tests, part-time weekend jobs, etc. I seemed to be the only one available and it was quickly established that, although a foreigner in Portugal, that ‘I would do just fine’ which I felt quite touched by.
After speaking with the girls, Adriana and Tania, I found that they had been given a task by their philosophy teacher, Luisa Carrapa from the Santa Maria da Feira High School, to film an interview with someone from Aanifeira about the work that is done at the shelter and to give our views on Animal Rights.
This is a strong subject for me, both personally and for Aanifeira, and as I took Adriana and Tania around the shelter explaining our situation, I could see that they were both incredibly overwhelmed with what they saw. Our dogs always get excited when they see people and the girls couldn’t believe the number of animals we had and just how beautiful they are. As they stopped to pat some animals whilst passing through the corridors, I felt that this must have been an incredible experience for them as not many young students have an opportunity to come inside the actual shelter itself unless they are volunteering for us or perhaps visiting with family to choose a pet.
Finally after visiting the small cattery we found a quiet corner in our ‘clipping room’ where I was able to sit whilst they filmed and asked about Aanifeira’s history, adoption process and where Aanifeira will go for the future. Following this came questions on our and my own views on Animal Rights of which I tried to explain clearly to them.
The fact that Aanifeira is a no-kill shelter in Portugal already proves the dedication and work behind a shelter and this in itself is proof of our respect for Animal Rights. The day to day struggle continues but with a positive view in working on neutering/spaying, responsible adoptions (rehoming), subsequent follow-ups and importantly, educational programs at schools.
We look forward to the day when new laws will be passed that will clearly define animal welfare legislation in Portugal and within the European Union in general i.e. mandatory neutering/spaying, obligatory vacination of animals, local government pounds turning into no-kill centres and working for rehoming unwanted strays, formation of a government entity for the prevention of cruelty to animals and so the list goes on.
Adriana and Tania’s school project however, is for us, a great start in interacting with young people and teaching them about Animal Rights. We appreciate their coming to visit us and the fact that their teacher had the insight to choose Aanifeira as an example in guiding them with their project. Our grateful thanks to them all!