Two volunteers at the ACE dog shelter in La Cala de Mijas came up with a unique idea to raise awareness about the plight of the abandoned animals forced to live shelters.
Mitch and Kelly asked to be locked in kennels at the shelter for 24 hours in order to highlight the despair that millions of dogs and cats that have been abandoned experience while confined to a cage.
The lock-in, which was Mitch’s idea, took place last week, when the two animal lovers spent a day in separate cages, with no home comforts other than a blanket, a bucket and toilet roll, and a bowl from which to eat, although they did enjoy the luxury of a spoon.
Mitch, who is from Belgium, and Kelly, from Rotterdam, usually finish their duties around 5pm, but on this particular day, the couple were locked up for the night with the animals.
Kelly said that what struck her most was the “silence” when her colleagues had gone home, something the “animals endure every day”.
“Loneliness, boredom and longing for attention, this is what the animals experience day after day. For me it was only 24 hours, but who knows how long for them? It really brings you down to earth,” Kelly explained to SUR in English.
The ordeal certainly struck a chord with animal lovers, because by the time the couple were released from their confinement, their plight had raised more than 7,500 euros to help ACE feed and look after the hundreds of abandoned and unwanted animals currently in their care.
“I wanted to raise people’s awareness about the confinement suffered by the millions of dogs that have been abandoned and are now in shelters. The way that animals, even after all the turmoil and pain of being abandoned, still keep daring to hope for something better is truly a miracle. Something we humans can learn a lot from,” Mitch said.
Fabienne Paques, the president of the charity - which since it was founded in 1999, has rehoused more than 13,000 dogs and cats - praised the two volunteers for their “dedication” to the plight of confined animals.
“No animal is born to be locked up in a cage. We are all free souls, and the ones who take them under their wing should love and protect them for life. Dogs that were once loved by their owners but, for whatever reason, were unceremoniously dumped, now spend their lives behind bars competing for every bit of attention they can get from a volunteer or carer,” she declared.