As a vegan, a passionate animal rights activist and someone who strives to be socially & environmentally conscious, I am always aiming to find new ways to help out where and when I can.
Holidays and vacations at home and abroad are no exception. So, during our most recent summer vacation to Portugal and the Algarve, my fiancée and I decided in advance to try to help out a local animal sanctuary. See the video here.
We searched online and found a local dog sanctuary, just outside of the township of Loulé near Faro, called the New Goldra Dog Sanctuary.
This amazing privately run sanctuary is operated by a lovely couple (originally from the UK) named Jan and Ray. They take in, de-sex, care for and endeavour to rehome around 100 stray, dumped and ill-treated dogs every year.
And all this without any government support or aid. They do have a small handful of volunteers (both local and holiday visitors) that help out at various times throughout the year, with feeding, grooming, walking and general upkeep of the property that they also live in.
However, they are often operating alone, 24/7 – 365 days a year, taking care of so many forgotten and neglected animals.
They exclusively rely on the kindness of public donations and individual sponsorship of the dogs that cannot be rehomed due to behavioural issues or age, but sometimes have to pick up the shortfall themselves and do so with passion and without complaint.
Upon contacting Jan to explain that we would like to come and visit the sanctuary and donate any food or items that she needed, she informed us that any dog food (canned and dry) was always required, especially puppy food as they had received an influx of puppies as the season has come on this year.
She also sorely needed any veterinary supplies that we could bring, such as worming and flea treatments and we could bring along some toys if we would like to also. So, after stocking up on food and vet supplies, we loaded up the back of the hire car and drove up to meet this amazing couple doing their part to help these poor animals that society has disposed of and forgotten.
Arriving at the New Goldra Dog Sanctuary
Upon arriving at the New Goldra Dog Sanctuary, we were greeted by the ever-watchful Maisy, Jake & Nina (the resident family dogs of the sanctuary).
Jan came and met us as we were unloading the car of our donated goods. She took us on a guided tour of the wonderful work that they are doing.
Firstly we met Ray and a couple of the summer volunteers bathing some of the new puppy arrivals in a medicated bath. These sweet little babies were no more than ten weeks old, and had only arrived a couple of days earlier after being dumped in a box by a skip. They were suffering terribly with fleas and mange.
But with some nourishment and TLC they were on the mend and loved the attention that they were receiving. Jan explained that puppies were always the easiest to rehome and said that two of these little mites had already been placed on hold.
The story behind the sanctuary
Having arrived on the Algarve fifteen years earlier after relocating from the UK with six dogs, Jan & Ray planned on a nice quiet retirement. This however quickly changed when they came across the packs of roaming street dogs at that time that nobody was caring for or treating.
First feeding these dogs and then taking some of the more approachable ones into the vets for treatment and de-sexing, they soon found themselves taking more and more animals into their care.
Thus began New Goldra Dog Sanctuary. Today, they are caring for around one hundred and twenty dogs across their rural property, all housed in over fifteen shaded pens and runs.
Each of these dogs has their own names, based on either personality traits or perhaps where they were found. From either ‘Moses’ and ‘Joshua’, who were found abandoned at a local church, or the ironically named ‘Husky’ who is the sweetest Husky/Corgi crossbreed. (Picture a Husky-looking dog in colour, fur and characteristics, only the size and stature of a Corgi!)
All of these wonderful dogs would not have the second chance at a loving home, real care and medical treatment if not for the amazing work of the Goldra team. This is what Jan and Ray provide for each and every dog that they take into their care and they have never turned any animal away, ever.
The fight for animal protection continues
In destinations like Portugal and other Mediterranean countries that have been heavily affected by the recent and ongoing financial global instability, the local populace can face hardship finding steady work and providing basic necessities for their families.
Therefore, quite often, once loved pets are no longer being able to be cared for and at best are donated to local sanctuaries like that which Jan and Ray run, or are just dumped to fend for themselves.
Through their tireless efforts, Jan and Ray manage to house and rehome around one hundred dogs every year in Portugal and across Europe, having each animal de-sexed, up-to-date vaccinations and travel ready for any adoption anywhere.
It is only through the private support they receive that they are able to continue this vital work. This is why we felt that, instead of spending money on overpriced dinners or souvenirs that would only end up in a drawer, we would spend a good portion of our holiday budget on helping those that need it more than we do.
And in the end, both my Fiancée and I always feel richer for our holiday experience when we can include something like this and make our travel more socially responsible.
You can enrich your next holiday, too!
Next time you are planning a holiday or are in a destination and are looking for something different to do, why not look up the local sanctuaries within that area and see how you can possibly help them out?
I am sure that however you aid them, they will be greatly appreciative for it and I know from experience that the holiday memories that you take home with you will vastly outlast those dusty and discarded souvenirs.