A Visit to the Shelter in La Linea de la Concepcion
Even though it’s just around the corner, last week was the first time in the 10 years I have been in Spain that I visited the Animal in Need shelter in La Linea de la Concepcion.
I had been planning it for a long time, but never got round to it. Worried perhaps I would be too overwhelmed and would want to take home all the dogs? Or maybe conscious of my lack of time to be able to dedicate the help I would really like to be able to give? Whatever the reason, I never went there. Until last Monday.
After Peter Koekebakker, a Spanish based Dutchman, first started rescuing dogs in self-made kennels on the land beside the local killing station in 2005, a lot has happened. The killing station finally closed in 2010 and the shelter in La Linea de la Concepcion is no longer state run. It relies completely on sponsorship and donations of the public. A quick trip to the local supermarket to stock up on some much needed puppy food set me on my way.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the premises is the sheer size of the project. It is obvious that Peter and his team of Animal in Need have worked very hard to transform the previous government run kill shelter to a fully functional animal shelter, where the welfare of the animal actually counts.
Currently the shelter has around 550-600 canine inhabitants. The sheer volume of dogs is overwhelming, but it is good to see they are being kept clean, fed and loved. More than most of them ever experienced in their previous lives.
I made my way around the different kennels, to meet some of the dogs. I could spend weeks there. Every dog has their own story and I almost felt like I owe it to the dogs to stay and find out more about them. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible at the time, but I did go online later to find out more about the dogs from their website. I fell in love with a little Galgo girl, and I found out from the website her name is Gitana. I met two enormous, amazing dogs: mother and son Mouschka and Putin. They are Mastins with such a sad history that they can currently not be adopted out as they are very nervous of people and too dependent on each other. Especially Putin, who contrary to what his name may suggest, is a massive mummy’s boy.
More than Podencos or Galgos, the shelter in La Linea is full of Bodegueros. If you don’t know about these lovely black and white bundles of joy yet, have a read into the breed. They are truly delightful and happy little creatures, and there are plenty waiting for their own forever home. If you want a Bodeguero in your life but don’t live in Spain, don’t forget Animal in Need doesn’t just adopt dogs out locally. They can easily be transported to most countries in Europe.
Another thing I noticed was the amount of Alsatians in the shelter. These dogs are often used as guard dogs in Spain to protect farmland and other property. Again, once they are no longer needed they are dumped, left behind without food, water or shelter or they may escape their sober lives and are picked up from the streets as strays.
The inhabitants of the shelter in La Linea de la Concepcion are not just canine. There are cats, too, adoptable via El Gato Andaluz – every one as gorgeous as the other. They also have fancy rats (of which I also have 4), pigs, donkeys and even horses in their rescue. The work Animal in Need does is amazing, and I will definitely be back to lend a hand!