Managing the shelter daily
In 2005 the Spanish foundation Prodean: Associación Protectora de Animales Pro-Derecho de los Animales (translated: Association for the protection of animal’s rights) founded a shelter in La Línea de la Conceptión, a place near Gibraltar, South of Spain.
Peter Koekebakker manages the work at the shelter. He is a Dutch man living in Spain and all the work at the shelter he does voluntarily. Together with his Swiss wife Madeleine he owns a small antique business near La Línea de la Conceptión.
The team in Spain
Besides Peter and Madeleine, the team momentarily exists of veterinarian Pablo Vincente Salinas and four general employees. Their job is to take care of the approximately 600 dogs and a few dozens of cats, assisting the vet, cleaning the kennels and other activities. For example: catching stray dogs after receiving an announcement from the police. This main team works almost continuously, also in weekends.
Financing the shelter
Every month the shelter needs between 4000 and 5000 euros to feed the dogs. Besides that, the regular costs exist of the (modest) salaries of a couple of employees, medication, housing- and transport. Peter doesn’t receive a salary or financial compensation for his work at the shelter. The Spanish government doesn’t give any support financially. The shelter is completely dependent on sponsors and donors. Besides financial support from sponsors and donors the shelter regularly receives sponsoring of building material, food and medication.
Work at the shelter
The team in Spain regularly gets support (Ad hoc) from Spanish and Dutch volunteers and trainees. They support the shelter with activities the team in Spain doesn’t have time for. The most important activities are: making an inventory of the dogs, photographing and filming the dogs, , updating the database and giving the dogs a chip. Also the dogs are taken for a walk and the volunteers observe their behaviour, try to socialize them as much as possible with humans. A must, because without this their chance of adoption decreases.
The shelter is a certified trainee post and students from several educations (like veterinary medicine) come from Holland to the shelter for their training.
What Peter does
Besides leading the team in Spain, Peter is responsible for the guidance of the students and the transport from adopted dogs to the airport. He makes sure that the person(s) who fly with the dogs can check in at Malaga airport carefree, and that all the obliged papers are all right. Flights go to Holland, Denmark and Germany. The 3 main countries who support the shelter. Sunday is the only day that Peter doesn’t work at the shelter, then you can find him at the market trying to sell his antiques/brocante. Seven days a week he cooperates closely with the police and animal protection to help victims of animal abuse and to find the offenders of animal abuse.
History of the shelter: start in 2005
In 2005 Peter starts looking after the stray dogs, with help from Prodean. Next to the local killing pound (the ‘perrera’ where dogs who are found will be killed after 10 days) in La Línea de Conceptión, Peter builds provisional dogkennels to take care of the dogs he rescues from the perrera. The first few years the dogkennels exist of old building materials and sponsored materials like pallets and corrugated sheets. The kennels are build on sand, which makes that the dogs suffer from heat and vermin in the summer. During the wet Spanish winters the shelter floods. Still, the stray animals have a better life at the shelter than outside the shelter. Thanks to Peter’s good reputation and his hard work the interest for the shelter grows, especially in The Netherlands. A Dutch foundation starts with one goal: supporting the shelter. This is the Second Chance Foundation (SCF), founded in Arnhem.
Milestone in 2010, closing the killing pound.
Thanks to (Dutch) sponsors and the Second Chance Foundation the shelter slowly becomes a professional animal shelter. In March of 2010 the local authority closes the killing pound. Peter has done everything he could to make this happen. With his own eyes he saw how dogs were killed in a cruel, non-official way. Rules according euthanizing dogs were broken every time. After a lot of hard work, also with help from the local supporters of the shelter, the doors of the corrupt killing pound were closed forever.
Renovation of the shelter: el “Campito”
In the summer of 2010, the renovation of the killing pound starts with help of sponsors. The filthy, unhygienic state of the killing pound is unbelievable. Dead dogs in the corners, the floors are dirty and the roof leaks. It’s a shock for everyone that a public servant working for the local authority of La Línea, took care of dogs this way. Many volunteers, construction workers and others work together to erase all the bad memories of this place. With success. With the new name “El Campito” the building is now clean and multifunctional in use. Ironically, the social authority is now particularly strict with the hygiene rules.
New tasks for the team in Spain.
With closing the killing pound and leaving the building and its activities in Peter’s hands, the shelter gets new tasks as well. Peter has to drive around to pick up found dogs, he has to take care of them and give them a place in his shelter or euthanize them if necessary. He receives phone calls day and night and often he has to accompany the police. He saves many animals. Horses who are tied to a fence without food or water, or puppies in boxes or closed bags. Many animals are saved from the canals around La Línea, thrown in by their owners. Peter has saved many pets from a cruel and meaningless death.
Optimism and perseverance
The suffering of animals Peter daily gets confronted with is unbelievable. For most animal lovers this daily cruelty to animals is too much, especially after so many years. However, Peter and his team are present at the shelter and outside, day after day after day. Besides the daily care of the animals, they are busy with informing the locals about spaying/neutering their pets. A long windy road that needs a lot of optimism. Regularly Peter and his team are threatened. Not everyone agrees with his approach.
Structural solutions: spaying/neutering programme and information
In the summer of 2010 the Second Chance Foundation and its team started a big spaying/neutering programme in the shelter. With the help of sponsors, extra veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine on all he-dogs are neutered from this moment on. This project is the beginning of a long term solution for the big stray dogs problem in the south of Spain. In 2012 the Second Chance Foundation will start a new information campaign.
The accommodation: Living on sand to modern shelter
Housing the dogs stays a problem. Although every time when there is enough money for the renovation of the kennels, it stays hard to offer dry and safe housing to the many dogs who come in the shelter. In the winter of 2009-2010 the main part of the shelter floods because of heavy rainfall. The dogs are all standing in water with their paws. Thanks to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and journalist Rob Hoogland (friend of the shelter) this problem can be solved temporarily because of the donations that follow after a written piece in the newspaper. Sponsor and animal lover Bennie Holtkamp makes a huge change of the shelter possible. Concrete kennels are build around the shelter. A sponsor donates watersprinklers for the concrete kennels in 2011, and also plastic dog houses and baskets are sponsored. Next to the kennels are wastepipes so the kennels can be cleaned easier. Since 2010 there is also a little light at the shelter, so people can work better in the mornings and the evenings. The shelter gets a gate that can be locked when the team leaves the shelter. During the second half of 2011 another milestone: the entry of the shelter is hardened with concrete so there will be no more winters with an impassable entrance.
The investments of the walls, gates and entrance have another advantage. The shelter has had a safety problem for years. The shelter is situated in a neighbourhood somewhat outside the city, with a lot of criminality. Regularly goods and dogs are stolen from the shelter. Also animal haters throw poisoned meat or razor blades in the kennels. The new situation offers better protection now.
Renovation of the clinic
Meanwhile a small but clean clinic has been created where the vet of the shelter can give the necessary medical attention to the animals. There is airconditioning (in the summer the temperature can go up to 40 degrees celcius), the walls and floor are tiled. The chance of bacterial infections is far less now. Sponsors donated the (used) operation equipment. It’s a huge progress that operating is now possible in the shelter itself. The chance of survival for the dogs increases enormously and the costs are a lot lower. Most of the money goes to food for the dogs and to the salary for the veterinarian of the shelter. Still, bringing the animals to a vet outside the shelter is much more expensive.
Recent renovation project: Building El “parque”
The old part of the shelter where dogs still live on sand will be renovated with help of a “kennel adoption plan” in 2012. This part will be realised with modern kennels and a fenced playfield for the dogs where they can stretch their paws. A dream come true for the team in Spain because lots of dogs have to wait in the shelter for an owner for years.
Loyal support from sponsors:
Besides many private sponsors the shelter has found a few loyal partners. Daily newspaper De Telegraaf, airline company Transavia, Botéba, Mol diervoeders, Faunaland and Bennie Holtkamp and his partners of the horse sport have helped the shelter in many ways. Especially in 2011 a lot is achieved with help from them. Lots of dogs find their way to Holland as a result of the “4th of October campaign” (animals day) in cooperation with De Telegraaf and Transavia. The shelter is known by more and more people and old and new sponsors get motivated to sponsor the shelter. The team in Spain really could use this motivation as well. Together with the new team of the Second Chance Foundation the shelter will keep trying to give (stray) dogs in Spain a better life in Spain. Starting with the 600 dogs that are in the shelter.
Aim of the Prodean Foundation: protection of the animals, promoting animal’s rights and informing the local community about animal’s rights. To bring about this aim the Prodean Foundation: will confiscate mistreated animals and take legal action against animal abuse. They will always work for the sake of the animals, however they will also always work according to law and justice.