Part One � Malaga and the South of Spain Sept. 23-Oct. 1, 2010


Part One � Malaga and the South of Spain  Sept. 23-Oct. 1, 2010

I will be �Spotlighting� a story about each shelter we visited every month so stay tuned!

Telma Shaw, Board Member of GRIN and Wally Lacey Greyhound Connection Secretary and Board Member, embarked on a mission to Spain to network with over nine different associations, visiting three shelters,   five boarding facilities, a shelter project being built, a rescue and informational center as well as distributing donations to various shelters and rescuing three galgos from Valencia and bringing them back to their forever homes. (GRIN is also working with Greyt Friends Greyhound Rescue of GA to bring back two other Galgos, Angie and Ruso on Nov. 4th, story to follow.

The trip to Spain was an amazing mix of meeting the most dedicated and passionate �Animalistas � (rescue workers) and enjoying the hospitality and wonderful reception these amazing people exhibited to their American counterparts. The whole trip itinerary in the south of Spain was organized by one special woman named Vera Thorenaar Reddering who lives with her Spanish husband Antonio and their menagerie of pets and fosters in the Malaga area called Alhuarin de la Torre.  

Vera  has been working for years with local shelters to move galgos to Holland and Europe with the help of Greyhound Rescue Holland and she also fosters galgos until they are ready to be adopted outside of Spain.  She then coordinates their trip to the airport transporting them in her van and on to their forever homes. This year GRIN has begun a collaboration with her as well.  We were lucky enough to work with Vera  right off the plane on our first day in Spain. We met the two galgos from a shelter in Sevilla who had been transported by MRW to Vipet Boarding Kennels for the night.  The next morning we took Connie and Damian the galgos to the airport on their way to Germany. A great start to our trip!

Each day was exciting as we saw for ourselves how dedicated these folks really are to make a difference as they face huge obstacles. Vera organized our itinerary around several visits to shelters.  The first day in Malaga we met with Charlotte del Rio and Lisa Ingram of the newly inaugurated association 112 CarlotasGalgos. Both ladies are working hard to publicize the plight of the galgo and have been  helping one galgo or podenco at a time in the Malaga area to find their forever homes in Europe.

That same day a wonderful lunch was prepared at Vera and Antonios so that we could meet some of the friends of the animals in that area. They are a very passionate group of people who shared all their stories of the dogs I had been reading about on their blogs and websites and when they realized that Wally Lacey was adopting Sofie (the galga with the smashed jaw) they went into overdrive, rapidly, very rapidly chatting in Spanish about the rescue of Sofie!! They were so grateful that we had come from so far just to visit them and rescue Sofie and a few other galgos. We heard lots of stories about dog rescues all afternoon, it was wonderful to share this time with them.

The next day off to Villa Martin and the San Anton shelter with Char and Dioni del Rio.  We drove through beautiful countryside and an ancient town called Ronda and stayed at a horse ranch near the shelter called Hacienda Buena  Suerte. We spent a couple of days visiting the shelter to get a feel for what is happening there and to meet the people running the shelter.  Story to follow on San Anton.

We returned to Malaga did a bit of sightseeing  for a day, it was beautiful.  We then prepared for our next trip north again with Vera and Antonio but this time to the area of Sevilla specifically Utrera a small community just south of Sevilla.  Vera organized our visit to these shelters:  El Buen Amigo, and to UPRODEA as well as three boarding facilities used by Adopcion Animal. The people were so warm and hospitable. They were happy we had come from so far �just to visit� them. They said they felt honored that we cared enough to visit them. It was humbling. Actually we were the ones honored to meet these wonderful rescue people. So many dogs. So many dogs jumping on you looking at you, take me, take me!!  We loved on all of them and some of these dogs will be helped in the future as word gets out for homes in Europe. It is overwhelming.  We also had the privilege that day to meet Beatriz Sanchez-Elvira of Associacion Protectora Argos in Sevilla. She explained her work to us as well, the hard work of helping one dog at a time and we enjoyed our time with her very much also.

That afternoon back in Utrera, we visited DdeVida Educational Center and met representatives of  Galgos 112 as well.  Encarni and husband Fernando of DdeVida, showed us their office in the town, and explained to us their method of work for the galgos, which is doing events and talks at local schools to reach the next generation to show them that dogs and animals have feelings and that we must take care of them.  They have been dedicated to the educational aspect of raising awareness for six years now and they also foster galgos as needed.  She thanked us for coming and visiting them and meeting Encarni face to face after so many years of emails was fantastic! Later that evening a dinner was planned at a local tapas restaurant  to meet with any of the representatives of the associations that could come. A great group of over 25 people came and it was a wonderful time of chatting, eating, drinking and networking with the hard workers of these associations. I also spent time talking to members of Arca de Sevilla and Adopcion Animal. I met the founder of UPRODEA, one of the shelters we visited, she was a sweet elderly lady named Francesca. The most amazing thing is that for the first time all these people had come together to meet and network together. I hope the trend continues as we all need each other.

The following day we visited a new project under construction run by Isabel Paiva and her daughter Isa Fernandez of Adopcion Animal/Funcacion Benjamin Mehnert.  It is an amazing project with over 150 kennels for galgos to be kept until rehomed in Europe. It will include a surgery room, birthing area, grooming area, consultation rooms, visitors quarters, two on site homes for the caretakers, play areas, turn out areas and more. I will spotlight this amazing project soon in following articles. These people are dedicated!

In the meantime we visited three of Isabel's boarding facilities that home over 150 galgos! That was the greatest experience, meeting so many wonderful galgos, who looked happy and healthy but some unfortunately are still traumatized from their past lives..but,  there is hope for them, and it is called time and love. That is all that is needed.  

This portion of the trip cemented my admiration for the people working on the front lines..many stories were told to me of the horror, and the hope. How people are overcoming by dedication to their passion  for the animals who need them so much. We met dogs who had been given a second chance.  It was so uplifting and amazing what dedication can accomplish. The needs continue, the dogs continue to be breed and discarded every year..when will it stop I kept asking myself. I know that showing these people we care means a lot to them as they struggle each day to help the unwanted.  All I can do is pray for them and spread the word so that we,  here in the U.S.A. and elsewhere,  can help us help them.

Short stories on all the shelters mentioned will follow.

Next article, I will write about the next portion of our trip which was to Valencia where we met the vets who put Sofie back together and a super amazing woman named Silvia Bordetas Gil who puts these dogs first above all else, and of course,  to meet the special galgos we were bringing back, Sofie, Silvie, Juanito and Angie.

Stay tuned for more�

Telma Shaw
G.R.I.N. Board Member