Volunteering abroad


On holiday for a long weekend in the south of Spain, we visited and helped out with a very special charity.

In the middle of Fuengirola, just outside Malaga, we spent a wonderful morning at the Asociación de Protección de Animales Domésticos, PAD for short. They have about 240 cats and 60 dogs in at the moment, and we spent the morning in the cattery.

First of all, it was cuddle and stroking time; and then we got more active, cleaning feeding and water bowls, mopping the floor, shaking up the beds and later putting down fresh water and lunch for about 15 very appreciative cats.

The charity currently has about 50 volunteers, of whom about 20 are regulars.  Many of these are people on holiday in the area, and a good number of the dogs find homes in Finland, thanks to the energies and devotion of a holiday maker to the region a few years ago (more on that in a minute)

PAD Kennels

It just shows, though, that even if you're away for a long weekend, you can get stuck in and lend a paw. We could have just spent the time cuddling and stroking, or even brushing and grooming. If we’d been more time pressed, we could have become members for 35 Euros and made a welcome contribution that way.
One of the things we loved most during the morning was how much the cats welcomed our efforts. Although many of them were shy at first, they quickly wanted to get to know us and one black and white cat particularly enjoyed playtime when we got busy with the mop. He had a marvelous time playing with the ends of it; and even tried to grab a ride! A ginger cat found his way onto our backs, and enjoyed stretching out around our necks. 
All in all, a great morning, and we left feeling as though we’d done something hugely worthwhile, for which our efforts had been appreciated by both those running the centre and the cats themselves. The memory of our morning is far more meaningful than if we’d spend the morning just dozing on the beach or strolling round the shops, pleasant though that may have been
PAD always needs short term fosterers
Many of their cats & dogs find homes in Finland.  This is the result of a visit by an animal lover from Scandinavia to PAD while she was on holiday.  She was fairly sure she could find homes for many cats & dogs back home - and she did! 

So every so often, cats & dogs find themselves on a flight from Spain to new homes in Finland, where they start a new life.  Often, these cats & dogs don't have long to wait for their flight north; and PAD needs people who would be willing to give them a short term (sometimes just a few days or a couple of weeks) foster placement near Malaga while they are waiting to head to their new homes in Scandinavia.  If you live in Spain for even a few months of the year, and love pets, but don't want to commit to long term pet ownership, this could be a great way to help PAD out. It means that their places in PADs kennels or cattery can be filled by animals needing rescue.
So the next time you're away...
Find out where the nearest charity is to where you're staying and make contact with them over the web site.  Find out if there is anything you can bring them or donate; or if you can give a morning of your free time to help.  In just a few short hours - 3 in the case above - you can:
  1. Make new friends, animal and human!
  2. Make a connection with a group of people and a cause which you can't get from visiting a web site
  3. Acquire a really great feel-good factor
  4. Help animals who need it
  5. Help those working to help animals
  6. Learn about animal welfare in a new part of the world and the problems animals face
  7. Turn caring for a cause into action for a cause.
  8. Adopt an animal - now, we don't mean bring the animal home with you.  Many charities have adoption schemes meaning that you can sponsor or adopt an animal for e.g. 15 euros a year.  Every little helps.
  9. Become a member, if they have a membership scheme.  You can become a member of PAD for just 35 euros.
PADS dog
We met Pretty (pictured above) when we arrived at PAD.  She gave us a lovely warm welcome with her waggy tail and "pleased to see you" smile!  We felt at home straight away.  

For more info on PAD, visit their web site