Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to help the cats and dogs

So many kind visitors come to Sal and take pity on the cats and dogs they see on the street and in their hotels.  Unfortunately this is not always the best policy since large congregations of animals inside hotels causes problems with hygiene and complaints from other guests.  Not all people love animals and it can be intimidating to see large groups of dogs wandering around, especially if you are not familiar with the country.  When this happens, as for instance, on the beach at the RIU, some people feel that there needs to be an 'instant' solution, such as with the mysterious disappearance of the seven puppies that were born under a boat there about three months ago. 

Since no one wants this kind of inhumane treatment, new association SOS Cats & Dogs recommends that tourists do not feed the animals in or around hotels or allow dogs to follow them back to their hotel.  Instead guests can help by making a donation of money or much needed treatments for parasites such as fleas, ticks & mange.

The hotels also need to take some responsibility in this matter, such as limiting the access for dogs (such as erecting a fence as the Belorizonte recently did), placing information for guests & training staff.  In addition the association can supply ultra-sonic animal deterrents which discourage animals from entering the area.  Incidentally these hand-held units work really well for joggers or bike riders who don't welcome the local dogs running alongside them!

For more information email SOS Cats & Dogs

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Two years since Rasher was killed

In Ireland near where he was born
Today is a terrible anniversary for us.  At this time on 8 October 2009 we had no idea that our world was about to be turned upside down by the irresponsible actions of a single person.  Yesterday in 2009 was the day that Giorgio Chiarel, the manager of the RIU hotel in Sal authorised the Delegation of Health to place strychnine on the beach outside Sal's largest hotel.

By 5pm the following day our beautiful dog, Rasher, had eaten that poison.  By 5.10pm he had died a horrendous, painful death in the turtle hatchery in front of many of the RIU hotel's guests. 

There are some who will never understand that love for an animal can be as strong as love for another human but there is no doubt that Rasher was our family, part of our world and we will never be the same without him.  Not a day goes by without us mourning his loss.  Our lives are diminished by the sadness that we have in our hearts every day.

This is made even harder by the recent pushing by some hotels and restaurants for yet more killing of animals.  Their idea?  A kennel in the desert, thinly disguised as a humane option, but in reality a place out of the view of tourists where animals can be killed.  As one hotel manager told me "yes Jacquie, it is the same, but less hard for people to deal with or know about, since it is not happening on the beach in front of people." 

Sleeping peacefully in the turtle hatchery
Clearly not many of the managers or owners have learned anything at all.  Not only this, but they can hide their involvement since although it is the hotels and restaurants pushing the government to build this concentration camp, it would be the City Hall kennel and they can claim to have nothing to do with it.

Always happy to get a ride on the quad
Indeed, in a recent email the Public Relations Depart of the RIU head office stated that they do not get involved in this issue but must respect the actions of the local government.   Therefore, once again refusing to accept any responsibility in the death of who knows how many dogs in the years since they opened here on Sal and conveniently forgetting that it was they, not the government, who requested poison to be placed on the beach in 2009.

There is only one way to control free roaming animal populations and that is a sustained neutering programme coupled with public education.  This includes advising hotel and restaurant guests not to feed dogs (which causes animals to congregate in unmanageable groups) and closing access to premises.

Thankfully the current manager of the RIU is more enlightened and is planning on using ultra sonic dog deterrents and giving more information to guests as well as allowing the dog and cat association to fundraise at the hotel..

As for Giorgio Chiarel?  Any reprimand from the RIU hotel?  Not at all, instead a reward - the manager's job at the new RIU Touareg on Boa Vista.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And the poisoning continues

Despite the results achieved with three sterilisation clinics (1000+ animals neutered so far), it seems the message is still not reaching some individuals, businesses and organisations.

The recent calls for the removal and destruction of free roaming dogs in Santa Maria simply has no merit.  Poorly thought out, it will no doubt be poorly executed as well.

Which dogs will be removed?  Will this include owned, registered and neutered dogs?  How long will they be held for?  Who will kill them and by what method?  (It certainly won't be by lethal injection since there is no Euthanol here and no staff trained to administer it).  Since there is no law here to say that you must keep your dog in your house or on a lead, how can this be legal?

And how will this solve the problem?  Natures abhors a vacuum.  Soon the areas where the dogs were taken from will be repopulated and the cycle begins again. 

For many it is a case of 'out of sight out of mind' and this is typical of the short-termism that afflicts many people here.  The answer?  If you don't want dogs and cats in your restaurant or hotel, close off access, ensure that food is not available and support neutering clinics.

In the meantime, it seems things are worse in the residential area of Murdeira which is notorious for poisoning animals.  Cape Verde Pets

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A story to warm the heart, Fenix the dog that wouldn't die

The saddest little dog used to live near us.  Fenix, with his back legs paralysed, dragging himself around with his front legs, living disabled on the street.  But who was sad?  The little dog?  No!  Fenix was happy and playful and loved.  It was only my own feelings that made me unable see anything else but his suffering and not see his big heart and his strong will to live.

So many people thought it was wrong to let him live this way, with no hope of recovery and (as some may have thought) no quality of life.  But a few people with huge hearts refused to give up and saw in this little dog a survivor's instinct - and knew that he deserved to be helped.

This is the story of Fenix's life (with apologies to Surfactivity for the poor translation):

"Better to be born lucky than rich"

Fenix has survived:
  • 1st assassination attempt hit by a car at Vila Verde = FAIL (result: paralyzed lower limbs) 
  • 2nd attempt to murder by lethal injection = FAILED (abandoned in the desert hoping that soon the injection would kill him
  • 3rd attempt to murder through neglect again in the desert = FAILED (recovered and dragged himself back again) 
  • 4th attempt to murder by suffocation = FAILED (Tossed into a plastic bag to suffocate, but released in time) 
  • 5th attempt again by lethal injection = FAILED (recommended by veterinarians who thought it inappropriate for him to live in this condition) 
  • 6th assassination attempt by poisoning = FAILED (found in time and saved)
And after all this, his relentless will to live and our care have been rewarded. 

Tonight Fenix ​​flew to Italy, thanks to the Association Vita Animale in Milan where they will try to cure his paralysis or look for someone to care for him.

Fenix on his way to the airport in the back of Francesco's truck
Fenix's treatment has already begun and he has found a place with the other dogs.  The seventh miracle in his short life is the friends that he had living in Santa Maria and their relentless quest to help him.

I, who doubted and was even scared to look at him through my own fear and pity for him, salute you Pat, Nicky, Francesco, Debora and all others who fought for his survival.

Good luck Fenix!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Third sterilisation clinic on Sal

It is an incredible experience to be part of the team running the dog and cat sterilisation clinic here on Sal.  Our wonderful veterinarians Thomas, Ines, Corinna and Madueno work non-stop, sometimes performing as many as 60 operations in a day.
Surgery production line
 And meanwhile, outside the clinic there is a steady flow of people of all ages with dogs and cats of all shapes, sizes and age.  They wait patiently, sometimes for most of the day to improve the lives of their animals by preventing unwanted puppies and kittens.

Incredible to see butch men with their butch dogs being brought for castration and knowing that the doubters who think that Caboverdean people don't care about their pets or don't understand the benefits of sterilisation, are SO WRONG!
No animal too small
 Incredible to see a hardened fisherman cradling a tiny kitten.

Little starving street dog, I am in love again
Incredible to see so many people loving their animals!

 See some more photos here.

Read more about SOS Cats & Dogs Cabo Verde here.

A video about the clinic in Praia run by the same vets before they came to Sal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cat beaten to death by Santa Maria restaurant owner

Some stories are so shocking it is hard to believe they are true and so horrific they are painful to read.

Last Friday, in front of horrified staff & diners, the owner of Restaurant Funana d'Vila in the town square of Santa Maria (Sal Island, Cape Verde) brutally killed a cat that had the misfortune to wander into his restaurant.

According to eye witnesses, the owner, Walter Dahringer, a German national, enticed the cat by offering it food, before snatching it up and throwing it in a blue plastic carrier bag.  He then repeatedly beat the bag on the stone pavement, ignoring the screams of agony of the cat inside.  When the cat was finally dead he simply tossed the bag inside a rubbish bin near his restaurant.

A volunteer retrieves the cat's body from the bin
Since animal welfare laws in Cabo Verde are unclear (they only protect owned animals which are classed as your property), it seems unlikely that there will be any action taken by the authorities.

The bin is near a trailer used by the restaurant.  Ironically 'Cretcheu'  is a term of endearment, such as 'sweetheart'

The restaurant Funana d'Vila.  The volunteer is blacked out for fear of reprisals
However, businesses like this survive by their reputation and we invite you to make your feelings known by boycotting this restaurant and spreading the word amongst others who live on or visit Sal.

You may also like to express your feelings to Mr Dahringer via email.  The address can be found on the internet.

Let's send a message that this kind of behaviour is unaceptable.

You can also sign a petition against the poisoning of cats and dogs in this country here. Stop poisoning cats and dogs in Cabo Verde.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sign the petition, stop poisoning in Cabo Verde

If you believe in the humane treatment of all living beings and understand that cruel poisoning is not the solution to controllling dog and cat populations please sign this petition.

Despite agreeing that poisoning doesn't work (and has never worked on Sal) and committing to supporting neutering programmes (the only proven solution), the city hall, health department and tourism department still threaten to kill innocent animals in this cruel way to solve a problem that has a better solution.

The petition will be presented to these authorities.  Tourism is the most important industry in Sal, please help us to demonstrate that visitors do not support this practice.

Dogs and cats don't have a voice but you can speak for them.

Stop Poisoning Cats and Dogs in Cape Verde

Monday, April 18, 2011

Câmara Municipal do Sal support the end of poisoning

The Câmara Municipal do Sal demonstrate their support for the humane reduction of cats and dogs on Sal by publishing a report of the January sterilisation clinic.

The article states that poisoning causes a great deal of suffering and is, in the long run, never effective.  The article can be read here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Final Sterilisation Clinic reports published

The full reports of the successful second sterilisation clinic on Sal can be downloaded or read in Portuguese, Italian and English by clicking on the following links.




 Once again a huge thanks to all involved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vets prevent the birth of an astonishing 80,000 unwanted dogs on Sal!

By neutering a total of 206 female dogs in Santa Maria & Palmeira (& 436 in total) the birth of an incredible number of dogs destined to live on the streets of Sal have been prevented.

Over ten days (7 in Santa Maria and 3 in Palmeira), the veterinary team from Germany performed an amazing 510 operations.  74 of those were the removal of painful hernias, cancerous tumours and amputations and the remainder were sterilisations.

Santa Maria
14-21 Jan
22-24 Jan
Male dogs
Female dogs
Male cats
Female cats

So how does that work out to 80,000 prevented dog births?

Well, if you take the original 206 females and assume that they have two litters of 8 puppies each but that only 70% survive that is 2,307 born in the first year.  Of those 50% are female and they will also have two litters of 8 puppies of which 70% survive, so that is another 15,228.  Of those 50% are female.  They, plus the females from years one and two will have 16 more puppies each of which 70% survive and between them in year 3 they will birth to a truly remarkable 62,558 more puppies.  Put it all together and you have an exhausting ....

Puppies born & survive year 1 2,307
Puppies born & survive year 2 15,228
Puppies born & survive year 3 62,558

But what it really adds up to is an incredible job done not only by the vets but by all the dedicated volunteers as well.  Thanks also to all the wonderful people who wanted to improve the lives of their animals and who waited patiently, sometimes all day, adding to the indescribable atmosphere of part veterinarian surgery, part carnival!

Thomas & Nicky, licensed to spray

It costs €15,000 to castrate this many animals and the funding was all raised by one amazing person, Monika, who not only did that, but who worked tirelessly during the clinic.

Thanks also go the people who made a donation either in person or through the internet, we raised €362 here in Sal and €426 on the internet.   These much needed funds will help to pay the cost of expenses such as the rental of the premises for the clinic, volunteer tshirts, banners and signs, boxes for transporting and separating the animals and miscellaneous medical supplies that were bought during the clinic.

The main objective for running this clinic and with luck, the next one, is to reduce the number of dogs in Sal.  We saw the strong affection that people here have for their animals and everyone agrees that fewer, properly cared for dogs and cats benefits not only the animals themselves but the people on this island as well.
Events were held in schools to teach children how to care for  animals.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The last day in Santa Maria

We could write a book about all the things that happen each day at the clinic.  Yesterday the majority of animals at the clinic had been collected by volunteers from the street or from areas with a lot of strays. Nicky and Marika spent a lot of time collecting cats from Djadsal Residence where the cats are under continual threat of poisoning by the management company and other residents (hiss....)

Neal and Laura tried to collect dogs from the Paradise Beach construction site but the dogs were very spooked, in the end it was left to the security guards who the dogs know and trust.  They managed to get three pregnant girls and one sad looking boy with a very bad eye infection.  Untold puppies have been prevented.

Two caring tourists brought a puppy that had been living around the Morabeza and had terrible mange.  It's such a shame because there is no reason this poor little fella had to suffer for so long, mange is so easily curable and Dr Fatima will treat street dogs for free.  The little boy, called Surf, got a nice ride home with Jayne.

And here is one of our regulars, he has become a star around the clinic as he waits patiently for his turn to see a vet and tolerates the indignity of having half a bottle on his head.  His usual spot is sitting under a chair near Thomas making sure Thomas is giving the correct doses!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 7 at the clinic

It hardly seems possible that it is day 7 already - but so much has happened.  The vets are averaging 40 sterilisation operations a day plus other miscellaneous ones such as tumour removal and dental work.  As anyone who lives here knows, a lot of the dogs have problems with their teeth and jaws with many having a funny little underbite.

The tumours are usually a form of cancer found on the genitals of both male and female dogs that is spread by sexual contact, something that is becoming more and more common here and another good reason to castrate.

Felicity is one of the saddest cases, brought in by a tourist staying at the Novorizonte Hotel, she was red raw on her back end.  It probably started out as a simple case of fleas but must have been driving her so crazy that she has scratched and chewed until the skin is all gone.  She is staying with one of the volunteers at night and being the guest of honour at the clinic during the day.  Once she is all healed she will go back to the beach to be looked after by the kind tourists at the hotel.  Oasis Atlantico, the owners of the Novorizonte are very supportive of the programme and are not one of the hotels that poison.

During the week we have had visits from government officials, including the Vareador do Ambiente & Saneamento (Counciller for the Environment and Sanitation) who is responsible for this type of activity.  Then a couple of days later the President's dog arrived and was collected by the President himself later in the day.  Today we expect a visit from the Department of Health who in the past have been responsible for authorising poisoning campaigns.

It's almost the last day in Santa Maria, tomorrow we pack up early and head up to Palmeira.  Palmeira is the main port on Sal but is really just a small village.  Sadly it has a lot of street dogs and cats living in terrible conditions.  Every time I go to Palmeira my heart breaks, so I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in something that will improve the situation.

Once again thanks to all our lovely volunteers, it's been loads of fun so far.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meet Sal's beautiful dogs!

As day three of the clinic dawns, it is hard to describe the amazing atmosphere and team work that is making a real difference to the lives of so many cats and dogs on Sal.

People are flooding into the clinic and yet it isn't enough for the dedicated vets, Thomas and Ines.  Working like German machines (Thomas's words, not mine) they call out "how many dogs waiting?" and it doesn't matter what we reply, inevitably the next thing Thomas shouts is "BRING ME MORE!!!"

Monica, our wonderful benefactor, is constantly on the prowl, like some kind of Pied Piper, enticing more dogs to the clinic with little bits of food and continually feeding the street dogs that have been sterilised but are hanging around outside.   We seem to have developed a band of doggie groupies as well as a big band of schoolaged helpers.

It is really heartwarming to meet the animals and to meet the people who care for them, on the whole they show a real understanding of the benefits of sterilisation and although they might not have the means, they really want to take care of their pets.   The system of registration means that we get to know every dog's name and each dog is getting a lovely home-made collar, so they will forever be part of "our pack"!

Thanks to all the amazing volunteers so far, you know who you are!  Anyone can come down and get involved, you can call first for a slot, or just come by.

Sunday today and I have a feeling it is going to be a crazy day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sal City Hall condemns poisoning and says sterilisation is the answer

In an article in a Cape Verde national newspaper, A Nação, Vareador (Counciller) Antero Alfama announced a partnership with Cabo Verde Cats & Dogs in a campaign of sterilisation beginning in Santa Maria this month.  He stated that the "the action of poisoning is condemned by many", an action that continues today especially by hotels, a fact that many tourists are ignorant of and would be horrified about.

The City Hall's strategy of beginning in Santa Maria is because of the high number of tourists and the need to improve sanitation and image.  Sr Alfama acknowledged the international help that was necessary to achieve this initial step.

Another important aspect is education and outreach and this is being achieved by distributing colouring books in schools, about caring for animals and handing out leaflets to the population about the benefits of sterilisation.

The online version of the article can be read here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Donate donate donate!!!!

Sorry, people tell me the donation links are a bit hard to find, so here they are!!  Thanks to everyone for the support.

€30 pays to sterilise a street dog Donate
€15 cures a street dog with painful and unsightly mange Donate
€10 pays for vaccination against killer diseases such as distemper Donate
€5 will give a dog or cat protection against fleas and ticks Donate

Or donate any another amount Donate

Sunday, January 2, 2011

FREE Dog & Cat Clinic Sal January 14-24th

Free* treatment, sterilisation & vaccinations will be available for cats and dogs on Sal in two locations, Santa Maria & Palmeira.

The aim of the clinic is to reduce the population of stray dogs and cats in a humane way and to encourage responsible ownership and treatment of animals.

Volunteers are needed - can you give a little time?  You can help with leafleting (8 and 9 January),  collecting animals or assisting at the clinic between 9h-12h and 13h-17h (even a couple of hours would be very useful).

Vehicles are needed - if you have a pick up and can make it available to collect animals for a few hours please let us know.

Donations of collars and leads and flea and tick treatment are very welcome as are cash donations.
€30 pays to sterilise a street dog Donate
€15 cures a street dog with painful and unsightly mange Donate
€10 pays for vaccination against killer diseases such as distemper Donate
€5 will give a dog or cat protection against fleas and ticks Donate

Or donate any another amount Donate

There will be a volunteer evening  on 7th January where you can find out more and sign up to help (venue and time will be announced shortly).

For more information, to volunteer or to make a booking 
call 957 2162 
or email info(at) (replace (at) with @).

This clinic is being made possible through the generosity of a private benefactor with the kind cooperation of the Câmara Muncipal do Sal & the Delegacia de Saude do Sal

* You will be asked to make a donation for any treatments/operations if you can afford it.