Animal Care España: 'We are hoping for a miracle to help us stay afloat'

Founder Fabienne Paques at the animal refuge centre in Mijas Costa.
Founder Fabienne Paques at the animal refuge centre in Mijas Costa. / SUR
  • The Mijas-based charity was 21 years old on Friday, but with donations plummeting and no student volunteers, the charity is in dire straits

Animal Care España (ACE) marked its 21st anniversary recently but, instead of celebrating, the charity made a desperate appeal for help and financial support.

Due to restrictions enforced to combat the spread of coronavirus, the animal refuge centre in Mijas Costa has found itself in dire straits, with donations plummeting, student volunteers unable to visit due to travel restrictions and the cancellation of all fundraising events.

The charity is usually assisted by around 300 volunteers from Belgium, Holland and Spain, however, this year, as with all charity organisations, volunteer support has diminished.

Also known as Spanish Honden in Need (SHIN), the animal charity was founded in December 1999 by Belgian animal lover Fabienne Paques and Dutchman Ton van den Broek. Over the last 21 years, the organisation has rehomed more than 22,000 dogs.

Fabienne Paques speaks to SUR in English about problems the refuge is facing and how they hope to overcome them.

How many animals do you have at the refuge in Mijas Costa?

At the moment we have more than 400 dogs and 100 cats, but this figure is rising daily.

How has the pandemic affected the refuge?

The pandemic has seriously affected us and we are struggling to survive. We function purely on donations and fundraising events, so we are experiencing very hard times at the moment.

Have you seen an increase in abandoned animals because of the crisis?

Yes, an enormous increase and we are struggling to cope with it. The financial condition in our area is very bad and people are abandoning dogs that need medical assistance because they just cannot afford to pay for it.

Do you think the charity will survive the crisis?

We hope to survive the crisis, but only time will tell. We will continue to support all animals, but we desperately need more help in order to survive.

How important is your work at this time of year?

The work we do is very important. Our philosophy is that every life counts. The neglect has been worse than ever and you sometimes wonder where all these poor dogs come from.

How are you managing to finance your work at the moment?

We are fortunate that people send us donations, although these have been far less than we would normally receive. We are hoping for a miracle in the form of a large donation to help us stay afloat, but we can only hope.

Other than money, what else is the refuge in desperate need of?

We need food, especially puppy food. We also require blankets, towels and cleaning products.

How can people get involved or help at the moment?

We desperately need people to offer foster homes or virtual adoption, as well as volunteers to walk the dogs and help out at the refuge. We welcome any help, no matter how small, everything counts.

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