Five years ago, in January 2015, three great people, professionals in the animal welfare and veterinary world meet in Fuerteventura. They have many things in common, especially their love towards animals and awareness of the need for the world to change, the idea that each inhabitant of this planet must be aware of the trace their actions leave, not just regarding animals but, most of all, environment, because everything is related.
Belén Roca, Olga Amann and Julio Cruz, friends and lovers of beautiful ideas, start to dream, to imagine a farming animal shelter, an idea to which they dedicated long conversations, very motivated because they consider Fuerteventura to be open to this kind of projects. «In the Canary Islands there isn’t a shelter for farming animals, and Fuerteventura is an island very open to change; we need to raise awareness about the importance to respect and preserve this wonderful environment», says Belén, one of the founders.
This wonderful idea starts taking shape after many animal rescues, until one year ago it became The Animal Academy Shelter, a non-profit association whose aim is to rescue abandoned or battered farming animals. It’s a place specialised in the education and awareness about good treatment and care of these animals.
These three friends make up the perfect team, as Belén and Olga are graduate in veterinary, Olga is a European bachelor in Birds Medicine. Belén is specialised in behaviour, preventive medicine and design of facilities and she’s got a master in management of wildlife assistance centres. Julio is a veterinary assistant and a truly handy man. He’s in charge of the rescues, carries out all the logistic of captures and handling of animals. It’s Belén and Julio that open us the doors of their shelter.
How did it all start?
It all started with the rescue of Misu, a precious loving kitten we could witness how it was thrown out of the window of the car that was driving in front of us. Of course we stopped to pick it up, and what we thought it was a packet of cigarettes turned out to be a kitten with a broken jaw due to the impact, destroyed eyes, injuries everywhere and full of fleas. Soon after that, the second rescue arrived: a little black donkey, Willi, which though being born to majorero donkeys it didn’t meet the standards due to his colour and his destiny would have been sacrifice. When we rescued him it was eight months old. Thus, more and more rescues followed.
How many animals are there right now and which is your policy towards them?
At present we have around seventy animals: donkeys, pigs, rams, goats, ducks, guinea-pigs, rabbits, a hedgehog, a dove, hens, dogs, cats, parrots and two human-beings… (lol).
The shelter is for farming animals, they’re our priority, as there isn’t any other place where they can take care of them. In the case of dogs, except for the ones that are already part of the family, the new ones are here just temporarily and we try to find a responsible foster family for them. Our policy is to sterilize all the males and females when the species allows it, as there is overpopulation of animals in the world and our places are limited and must be available for external rescues.
The upkeep of all this must be expensive, how are you managing?
From the very beginning we have paid for everything: water invoices, veterinary consultations, medicines, treatments, feed… our personal expenses reduced to zero. We realised this wasn’t sustainable, it kept increasing and we couldn’t afford it any longer by ourselves. So, when we became an association, we decided to set in motion different funding modalities, such as teaming, members, sponsors, donations (feed bags, blankets…), punctual crowdfunding campaigns for concrete actions.
Now we’re working on an online charity shop where we’ll sell elaborated products in tune with our life style: bracelets, keyholes and little items made with recycled material.
Anyway, we bear the 80% of the Shelter expenses.
Do you have any help from administrations?
Not now, but I’d like to work hand in hand with administrations regarding the awareness and education that move us. For example, The town hall of Puerto del Rosario has a Department of animal welfare and we’re professionals committed to this subject. We’d love to offer our knowledge, studies and will to carry out many projects about animal welfare.
You insist that the shelter arises mainly aiming to raise awareness, how, what are your awareness targets?
We’d like to bring about a change in the mind of the people surrounding us, making them be aware of the trace we leave with each one of our actions. It’s all about reducing this trace by considering our actions and our environment.
And in order to reach this change we propose speeches and workshops in schools, cleaning beaches, creative recycling workshops…. We have lots of ideas and some of them are already being carried out.
I imagine that they will be many the people and entities helping you with this shelter and rescue philosophy… who are you thankful to?
There are quite a lot of people helping us, volunteers and veterinary clinics; we’d like to highlight, especially, that of Gran Tarajal, and Fuertepets in Corralejo, which behave exceptionally… The truth is that without any help this wouldn’t be possible, although at the moment we bear the 80% of the expenses as I said before. This is why we’re open to any help we can get, members, teaming….thanks to these helps we can keep rescuing animals. GIVE US A HAND BY DOING YOUR BIT SO WE CAN KEEP SAVING LIVES.
Thank you for believing and creating a better world.
The Animal Academy:
Facebook e Instagram: @theanimalacademy.refugio
Belén and Curro