For the love of dogs

MiMove on 2020-03-06

There are many stray dogs in Spain looking for new families. The MiMove-blog met up with Mary, president of dog charity ADANA in Estepona to hear her story about rescuing dogs.

Mary and Xena

I can’t imagine life without dogs! But if someone would have said ten years ago that I would be this much involved, I wouldn’t have believed them.

My partner and I used to live in Prague in the Czech Republic but never really enjoyed the cold weather. We decided to move to Andalucia about ten years ago and came to Estepona where my son has a property. Before leaving Prague we bought a pedigree eight-week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback pup. We called him Azor and of course, he made the move with us.

Whimpering noises

One day when we had just moved to Spain, we were out walking Azor and we heard whimpering noises from inside a bush. We walked closer to investigate where the sound came from. There we found a severely emaciated and injured dog. Slowly we managed to gain his trust and by offering him some water we were able to get him out of the bush. While I was waiting with him, gently stroking his injured head my partner went back home for the car. With some difficulty we managed to carry him into the car and took him to the vet, praying he would get well and survive but sadly he didn’t.

That incident touched us greatly and has stayed with us. It also made us want to do more and get involved in the local community. That’s when we got in touch with ADANA, a small charity that cares for and rehomes unwanted and abandoned dogs in the Estepona and Manilva area.

Adopt a dog

We started volunteering; walking dogs, helping to keep the place clean, fundraising and whatever else needed doing.  Now ten years later I am president and my partner heads our very effective and active Adoption Team which manages to find homes in Spain and all over Europe for around thirty dogs a month.

Dogs left behind

We see sad things at ADANA, dogs brought in in a very poor condition, abused and starved dogs, dogs thrown from cars on the motorway.  We take them in, give them veterinary care, love and cuddles and find forever homes for them.  I get very angry when people come to us with their dog and say they want to give him to ADANA because ‘their circumstances have changed’, they have a new partner, or need to move houses.  We try to explain how traumatic it is for a dog to leave a loving home for a kennel, but it doesn’t seem to matter in most cases.

Also, people sometimes just leave their dog at the gates outside of opening hours. We come in the morning and there might be a box of five hungry puppies or a large sad, dog tied to the gatepost. Sometimes, that causes troubles for us as we have limited space. We can only house 150 dogs and we are full most of the times.

We take care of all dogs

But, we will, of course, take care of all dogs. If we don’t have space, we will call around to other local charities. We may also find temporary foster homes until we can find forever homes. Sometimes it feels like we carry out a Sisyphean task – there are just so many dogs in need.  However, most of the time we see happy things; as when a dog finds a new home or when we see a dog that came to us in a very bad condition, starving and terrified, grow into a healthy and confident dog. That is so rewarding and then we go to bed happy at the end of a long day.

ADANA is a well-established charity which has been caring for and finding homes for abandoned dogs in the Estepona region for thirty years.  We have two employees and hundreds of volunteers of all nationalities. They help by cleaning the pens, walking our dogs, raising funds and organising events, like flamenco night and the Christmas fair and of course finding ‘forever’ homes for our dogs. We operate from premises in the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja rent-free from the local Council.

Adopt a dog

When someone wants to adopt a dog from ADANA, they either come to the shelter or look at our website, adana.es. There they can see photos and details of all our dogs for adoption. We neuter or castrate, vaccinate and put in a microchip before the dog is adopted. The main reason for the huge number of stray dogs roaming the streets and countryside of Spain is because of the lack of neutering and castrating.   Many of our dogs go to homes in other parts of Europe. They either go with their adopters or with a flight buddy. A flight buddy is a person who travels with them and meets the adopter at the airport.

My partner and I have a dog we adopted from ADANA, a Cane Corso, Xena. She came to us in a very poor condition, being used as a puppy breeding machine. She was malnourished and dirty, with a broken leg, probably from a kick or blow. Five years on and she has become a happy part of our family.   Neither I nor my partner can imagine life without a dog, or dogs. Sadly, our old dog Azor, the Rhodesian Ridgeback recently died, eleven years old.

Azor and Xena

Life with dogs

If anyone had told me before I left the UK that I would become so involved in an animal charity I wouldn’t have believed them.  Now working with ADANA is a major part of my life here in Spain. Although, I’m still involved in politics and was a candidate in the last municipal elections.

If you ever come on holiday to Estepona or perhaps live here already, why don’t you come for a visit? Our kennels are located in the beautiful Parque de los Pedregales. You can meet and walk our dogs and enjoy the lovely scenery and beautiful views of the sea.  Who knows, you might fall in love with one of our dogs and give it that much-needed forever home.

Just recently we found a cardboard box with seven puppies in abandoned by the roadside. They are called Ziggy, Biscuit, Diane, Tracer, Maverick, Jet and Noodle and are all up for adoption, except for Ziggy who has just found his family. They are all very sweet and playful and would happily travel for a good family.

Puppies for adoption

First published in April, 2018

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