The animal welfare organisation Triple A has warned that without a substantial cash injection over the next few weeks it will have to close its shelter.
The association’s premises, on the Ojén road, were originally set up to house 120 dogs and 80 cats, although at the moment the shelter is looking after 358 dogs and 205 felines. In the first six months of this year 500 abandoned animals were taken to the shelter.
Running the shelter costs Triple A some 35,000 euros every month. Forty per cent of this goes towards the wages of the paid staff although their work is supported by a network of volunteers. Two full-time vets, who work flat out neutering, de-fleaing, worming and treating the animals, are paid 1,800 euros a month each.
Animals taken to the shelter with more serious injuries, after being hit by car, for example, or with broken bones, have to be taken to a veterinary surgery, due to the shelter’s lack of resources.
Pilar Jiménez, a Triple A volunteer, pointed out that these clinics treat the animals at reduced rates. “But any intervention costs a minimum of 300 euros.”
Triple A struggles to survive month after month. The association has 460 members who pay five euros a month.
“Some contribute a bit more,” said Jan Weima, the association’s secretary, who dreams of reaching 1,500 members which would guarantee their survival. He explained that in Marbella there are 30,000 dogs registered of the pet census, “that’s a third of the human population, who could support us.”
Marbella town hall pays Triple A an annual subsidy of 60,000 euros. “That’s enough for us to keep going for a month and a half,” said Weima. He pointed out, however, that all the local governments, starting with the former mayor Jesús Gil who offered them the old slaughter house as their first premises, have done their bit to help. Some years ago the council under the three-party coalition, tarmacked the access road. The current local government has lent them a piece of adjoining land, which has been fenced off and is used for dog-walking.
The current Triple A premises, however, 30 years after the association was founded, still have no mains drinking water, drains or sewerage. They spend 1,500 euros a month for a tanker to bring water to top up their reserves. The few drains they have are continually getting blocked due to dog hair. The septic tank often fills up and overflows. Railings are rusty and no renovation work to the building has been carried out in decades.
Threat of closure
For fear of sounding alarmist, Jan Weima said that without a cash injection over the next month, they will have to close the shelter.
“That doesn’t mean that we will sacrifice the animals we have here. We’re a shelter and at Triple A we don’t sacrifice any animals unless it’s strictly necessary and recommended by a vet. We are not a dog pound. But we can’t take any more in,” he said.
The problem is that people still leave boxes full of puppies or tie up dogs outside their door.
As well as a campaign for funds, Triple A has also sent out an appeal for volunteers to wash and walk the dogs. They also welcome donations of cleaning products, blankets, towels and sheets.