Today Sarah and I went to visit the Municipal Kennel of Funchal, managed by the AMAIS Association (Madeira Animals Association), since 2016.
We thank the person responsible for the management of the kennel, D. Sara Machado, for all the attention and willingness given to guide us through the enclosure and to respond promptly to all questions that were arisen. In a respectful way, we also take this opportunity to thank and publicly praise all the work, perfectly visible, of all the team that works there, cherishing, caring and daily looking after hundreds of lives “discarded” by society, with limited resources but with giant hearts. Thank you so much.
This certainly was an experience that marked us and will not be forgotten!
The Vasco Gil Municipal Kennel is now known as the Official Collection Center Vasco Gil although it is not recognized for all legal requirements and accommodates some 270 canines and 60 felines. At the moment, the space destined for the cattery is under construction, making it difficult to manage the space where the cats are welcomed, but even then everyone is properly pampered and cared for, as best as possible.
The daily routine begins very early, as it was noticed as soon as we arrived at the Kennel at 11am. Even from the outside, it was possible to see the hustle of the work that is repeated day after day by all the workers. All cages are open and clean. The dogs are let loose in the meantime, in a grouped way and at the same time. They can walk freely in the zone of the “park” or in the corridors. In addition to the daily tasks of the workers, they have to be on caution everyday because there are situations that arise and need special attention such as fights between dogs at night when no one is there that can lead to injuries or even deaths.
We met a dog named Mena, a very loving foster mother who helps take care of the litters that are taken in the kennel, helping to keep baby dogs clean and with the “warmth of a mother” nearby. Puppies are usually separated from other dogs, especially to facilitate control of virus propensity.
At this point, Sarah and I were already covered in mud everywhere but very unconcerned about it, since we were constantly surrounded by lovely caring dogs expressing themselves in the way they know it, with their eagerness for attention. And it is so natural how they give all this love and affection to us, even after being abandoned.
Inevitably, one of the topics we discussed with D. Sara was animal abandonment, which is one of the most worrying factors on our island, where animals are treated as “disposables”. This makes this facility in a overcrowded place which host the animals and that have spatial limits. Even though they are fully crowded, they always have to be able to get one more corner, which can sometimes reach 20, 30 dogs collected per month (at best), reporting cases where some were left overnight tied up at the gate kennel or simply left in the surrounding area.
We wondered if there was a specific season with a more propensity for abandonment based on some research we did, which pointed out that some seasons had larger abandonment rates like summer, and in fact that may be the case, but not for the reasons we were thinking (like the old holiday story …) but rather because there are increasing number of litters and so the number of dogs collected increases.
But not everything is bad! We know that the Kennel currently makes very happy partnerships with some German Associations, which has allowed some older dogs (mostly discriminated against by the Madeiran population at the time of adoption, choosing newer dogs to the older ones!) To have a new opportunity for a happy life, they are welcomed by families in Germany. This difference of mentality from a European country to our regional reality is also one of the problems pointed out in our society, which discriminates against adult and older dogs at the time of adoption and which involves other factors such as the misconception that “a dog adult does not learn, “devaluing the fact that any animal needs an” adaptation phase, “which is naturally different for each one, which often results in the owners'” misperceptions “and what it really is to have an animal and give him all the education, attention and care needed.
Since we started the research work about three months ago, one of the things that stood out was the question of “wandering animals.” From the conversation we had with the manager of the municipal kennel today we can conclude that wandering animals are not really “the problem”. At this moment, according to what has been transmitted to us, most of these animals are already well signaled and sterilized, being under the periodic care of people who know the animals and the places where they are. The problem now is lack of education.
There is really a society that needs to be re-educated and move quickly out of the “bubble” it is in, facing reality and becoming aware of the consequences of its actions.
Tânia de Andrade
9th October, 2018