PAWS PATAS A Charity Worth Supporting - The Incredible Journey!
Pictured above are some of the volunteers with special boy Pacco. This lovely boy waited patiently for eight long years in the shelter before he eventually found a wonderful forever home with his new family in Holland. PAWS never give up on the dogs and cats, no matter how long it takes to find their perfect home. They have supporters around the world who have adopted from them or volunteered at the shelter, they have achieved miracles from their very humble beginnings over 30 years ago and have saved thousands of dogs and cats over the years.
Paws was founded by a handful of ex-pats 1n 1985, these ladies continue despite now being in the 70s. They wanted to do something about the growing number of abandoned and mistreated animals roaming wild in and around the Mojacar area of Southern Spain.
They looked to build a shelter to get dogs off the streets, attend to their needs and find them loving homes. Land donated by Vera Council offered such an opportunity and the shelter was built by a team of willing volunteers.
In 1991 the first PAWS-PATAS fundraising outlet opened in Mojacar. This provided an opportunity for people to find out more about the organisation's activities as well as raising much needed money to keep the shelter running.
On the 26th November 1996 PAWS-PATAS was officially registered as an Association for the Protection of Animals with the Junta de Andalucia, registration number 01928. Karen Polansky and Enrique Arias were appointed President and Vice-President respectively.
In 2001 Vera Council reclaimed its land and the shelter had to be demolished. There were 42 dogs in the shelter at the time. Fortunately, 30 could be taken to Holland and the remaining 12 were shared between volunteers and other foster carers. PAWS-PATAS continued to operate in association with local vets and by persuading people to foster until homes could be found.
Their luck fortunately changed in 2002 as a result of a very generous anonymous donation of 15,000 Euros, PAWS-PATAS was able to acquire land elsewhere to build a new shelter. A suitable site was found just outside Los Gallardos and work began on the new construction. Further donations totalling 60,000 Euros were received following a joint English-Dutch TV production put together by two PAWS-PATAS volunteers. The new animal shelter opened in 2003!
Then in 2008 the PAWS-PATAS Cattery opened. The neutering of stray cat colonies on a small scale had been undertaken prior to this and the cattery was built with the intention of hospitalising cats after their neutering operations, before returning them to their colonies. 'TNR': Trap Neuter and Return. However, once people knew a cattery had been built, it didn't take long before cats were being taken in for re-homing in the same way as the dogs.
A third fundraising outlet opened in a parade of shops at Las Buganvillas, just outside Garrucha in 2013 to help support the growing number of dogs and cats PAWS were caring for. PAWS rehomed an amazing 232 dogs and 37 cats in the same year!
But in 2014, they were hit with more challenges, some abandoned dogs at the gate were discovered to have the parvo virus, a lethal disease for young puppies. The shelter was forced into "lock-down", homing had to be suspended and quarantine cages had to be erected, incurring large veterinary costs. It took more than two months to ensure the virus had been contained.
In the very same year PAWS UK was launched and an education programme started for school children in Los Gallardos to encourage a better understanding of animal welfare needs.
PAWS recorded that 2014 was the worst year in the 25 year history of PAWS-PATAS for animals abandoned at the shelter gates or in the near vicinity of the shelter.
Fortunately in 2015 a sponsorship deal was secured from the Dutch company MedicAnimal to supply free animal food and other items for collection and onward transmission to Spain by means of the PAWS-PATAS van. In addition, Worldwide Veterinary Services (WVS) offered it's support, reviewing the work of the shelter and awarding a 6,500 Euro grant towards the construction of the new intake unit for new dogs entering the shelter.
hen in 2016
Then in 2016 work commenced on the new cattery quarantine unit to support the ever increasing number of cats and kittens abandoned at the shelter gates. PAWS have "Ground Force" days, where people come and volunteer to clear weeds, tidy and paint the shelter.
Unfortunately, more bad luck hit the shelter at the end of 2018, two floods, the first destroyed the access road to the shelter and washed soil from the outside pens. The dogs were moved from kennels to keep them safe and dry. The second flood was very serious, the rain washed away the recently repaired access road and poured through many of the kennel roofs leaving the dogs paddling in muddy water. The volunteers rallied round moving dogs to dry kennels and bailing out the lower kennels, then cleaning up all the mud left behind. We rely on donations and legacies, with the occasional grant to fund the shelter and now have to raise extra funding to make much needed repairs after the serious flood damage.
They are continually overwhelmed with abandoned dogs and cats and desperately need volunteers. If you would like to travel to Almeria, Spain and volunteer at Paws for a week, month or year, whatever time you could offer would be gratefully received.
Paws provide private accommodation for you whilst you help out at the shelter. If you are training in animal welfare or a canine related profession or you have experience of dog ownership, you would be welcomed with open arms by the team.
Can You Help?
Paws is a much valued safe haven for the wonderful dogs and cats in Almeria, please get in touch if you would like to be actively involved.