November 30, 2011

Will you help to keep us snug and warm?

    Spoti models his smart new raincoat

   Last May there was a near disaster.  A tremendous, almost unprecedented storm. Torrential rain swamped the Refugio, bringing mud sliding down the sides of the hill and into the kennels, the cages, the clinic, the laundry, the office, the storerooms – it was everywhere.  We lost all our medical supplies, blankets, food and equipment.  Some poor dogs, already weak, suffered from hypothermia and didn’t make it.  It was the saddest of times.  But heartwarming too, as literally hundreds of wonderfully kind people rallied round.  They brought vanloads of food, of medicine and bedding. They came with brooms and generators to help clear up the mess. They took some of the dogs into their homes, to help calm them, to give us space to finish the clean up. 

 Could you help us keep warm and dry this winter? Please. Would you?

     But now winter’s fast approaching.  And in Spain that means more rain.  Lots of it. We’re praying we don’t have a storm like in the spring.  Nevertheless we need to keep the dogs dry throughout the winter, and would be grateful for some help in the form of raincoats for the dogs.  We have warm coats and coverings, but when it rains these get soaked.  Already we’ve had generous people send us raincoats for the dogs. Would you like to donate some too – for big dogs, small dogs and in-between dogs?  It doesn’t matter whether you can offer just one coat or ten, twenty – or more.  Or a donation, earmarked for raincoats.  If you’d like to help, please click on ‘How can you Help’ or ‘About ACE – Treasurer’ on the website. We’d be very grateful. So would Spoti and his companions.

November 28, 2011

The Three Musketeers

                                                                    Huggy Hardy
There they stood in the hot sun, the Three Musketeers, tied to the gates of the Refugio. No one knew who had left them there, no one knew why.  No one knew their history.   We called them Laurel, Hardy and Champ. Two years later, two long years of waiting and there came great news. Beautiful Hardy, the huggiest dog in the world, had found his golden basket.  And a few months later it was gentle Laurel’s turn. But poor Champ is still waiting. 

                                                                   Gentle Laurel

     He looked on as one by one his companions jumped into the car, on their way to a new life. And still he watches, very day, as luckier dogs leave for the airport – many of them have barely arrived and they are off already. Poor brave Champ has been at the Refugio for over two years now.  His sad eyes say ‘When will it be my turn? Who will help me? I so want someone of my own to love.’ He’s young, he’s good the other dogs, he loves humans.  Would you give Champ the best Christmas present ever – his own family at last? Who will take this beautiful Christmas present of a dog and make their family compete?


                               Brave lonely Champ, still hoping for that special Christmas present

November 27, 2011

How Could They ....!

            People have no money, keeping everything together is a continuing struggle.   
Where would they find enough to pay for a vet?

           Every day the oldies, like tiny, fragile Leli, are abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves.  Dogs like faithful Lars, the old boxer, who cannot understand why his master left him and walked away. There are so many dogs like these, far too many to mention each by name. All eager for a kind word, a warm basket, a cuddle – and to be home with someone they can love unconditionally for the rest of their lives. 

                                Lovely, smiley Lars – still hoping for his golden basket

November 25, 2011

A very special place

  25th November 2011


                                                       A very special place

     Welcome to the very first post on the A.C.E. English Blog. If you know about A.C.E. and the wonderful work being done there, it will need no introduction.  If you have recently discovered the website, you’ll see that there’s an English version.  There you’ll find the history of El Refugio, adoption procedures, volunteering and much more.  Plus, in Fabienne’s Diary and in Lucky Dogs, a record of the daily struggle to save as many dogs as possible. And theheart-warming success stories too.

     It’s called El Refugio.  Rightly so - for it truly represents salvation for thousands of abandoned and abused dogs.  They come in all shapes and sizes - some are old, some are hardly born, many are damaged physically. All have been traumatised in one way or another. But every single one of them is a beautiful soul, yearning for a second chance.  These lovely dogs deserved better than to be beaten, thrown away, flung out of cars, shoved into the garbage or condemned to roam the streets, to be rounded up and gassed.

     Despite their terrible experiences, they just want to trust again. Courageous and gentle, they are eager for a cuddle, a kind word.  Others will take a little longer, they are still timid and scared, but little by little they see that now they are safe.  From the moment they come into the Refugio or into foster care, every single dog is treated with kindness and care – a visit to the vet, a nice bath, good food, kind words and above all a cuddle. And, soon, very soon we hope, the golden basket – a loving family of their very own and no more sadness and pain.

                                                     “Why did you throw me away?”

Little Tanish was flung out of a car on a busy road. Luckily someone saw what happened and now she’s safe at El Refugio and recovering well.

     It’s hard because you can’t save them all and it never stops. Every day, Fabienne and her volunteers and helpers go to the killing stations and visit breeders hit by the recession, trying to save as many dogs as they possibly can. Add to those the dogs and puppies found dumped outside the Refugio, tied up, pushed through the bars or thrown over the wall.  And the stream of people coming with dogs they can no longer keep, or don’t want …

     There’s another side to this daily horror.  The thing that makes it all worthwhile.  The trips to the airport, virtually every day – sometimes with four dogs, sometimes ten – on my last trip at least 30 dogs flew out in just seven days.  Waiting at the other end are the A.C.E. volunteers and the adopting families, eager to meet the beloved dog they have chosen and waited for with such anticipation. Thanks to brilliant volunteer support in Holland and Belgium and in other European countries, over the last ten years or so thousands of these dogs have found a new life with loving families.

                        Yona at Malaga airport on her way to her new life 

When Fabienne found her she was quietly crying in a corner of the killing station. She was blind. She was scared.  Now she’s the happiest dog in the world. 


Happy endings – Yona with her loving new family – home at last!

             At last ..........

     Because of our very out-dated quarantine laws, it hasn’t been possible to send dogs to England for adoption.  But there’s good news.  From 1st January 2012, the British laws are changing and from that date the quarantine period will fall in line with the rest of Europe. 

     It will take time to build up the good strong organisation that’s needed before we can even think of bringing dogs over here. It will take committed and willing volunteers and helpers.  People to raise money, to visit prospective adopters and check their suitability, to come to the airport and receive the families and the dogs and do the paperwork.  It’s early days.  But …  is there anyone out there who would like to help start the English Ace? To be in at the beginning. To let people know, to raise money, to donate – to help the dogs.

26th November 2011

              Why Spain - haven’t we got enough homeless dogs in England …?
     Yes there are plenty of rescue dogs in England who need and deserve a good home and loving family. Yes, of course there is cruelty and neglect here – you’ll never stamp it out entirely. Nevertheless, thanks to all the great animal charities in England and our animal protection laws, I doubt it comes close to what is happening in Spain.

                                          ‘What did I do wrong?’

Boliche loves his humans so much but he was no longer a puppy. The children were bored with him. So now he’s in the killing station, with ten days to live. He doesn’t understand – ‘when are you coming back for me?’

     In England we do not routinely gas dogs en masse, like Boliche, who’s little life, still unlived, is ticking away. We do not allow people to bring a healthy dog to be killed and walk out with another one there and then - younger, stronger or prettier – a dog that will inevitably meet a similar fate some years down the line.  We have sterilisation programmes here and do not allow dogs to have litter after litter as a matter of course, nor permit their owners to throw the resulting puppies out with the garbage, or dump them by the side of the road.

     We don’t hang hunting dogs when they are past their useful life, nor do we shoot them or mutilate them and mostly we don’t kick them to death or check them out of a car on a motorway. Of course such terrible things happen here, and more often than we like to think, but not on an almost industrial scale. Not every day, not all the time. 

     This is why Fabienne and Ton set up A.C.E. This is why they devote their lives to this work.  This is what motivates all the volunteers, workers, students, fundraisers – everyone involved. They have one aim – to save the dogs. By rescuing them, rehoming them and by encouraging sterilisation and by education. Will you help?

Update.  Wonderful news. Boliche has been saved. He’s now at El Refugio, enjoying cuddles and love and just waiting for his very own golden basket.