I was kindly welcomed by Sid Richardson, the founder of ARA, Ian Henderson and their whole incredible team who care for all the cats and dogs at the shelter. I was also greeted by the cheerful two-legged dog, Alegra, the star of the launch and who captured the hearts of all the events guests. We were then given a tour of the amazing facilities where we got to meet all the canine residents and feed them some much deserved treats.

The team were very informative and told us briefly about each dog and their schedule at ARA where their care is second to none. They successfully re-home 20 to 30 dogs a month and try to get them forever homes, minimising the time they stay at the shelter. They also have great volunteers who come and clean the kennels and walk and play with the dogs which further socialises them and gets them ready for their new home. Additionally, they have great on-site accommodation, where people from all over the world can stay and volunteer with the animals. Their volunteering program through workaway.info has been extremely successful and they have had volunteers stay for up to a couple of months at a time and some end up giving a loving home to some of the dogs there.

Following the tour, Rui Cristina, the PSD deputy who is currently running for Loulé mayor, gave a heartfelt speech about the book and the hard work and care that Sid Richardson and his team give the animals at the shelter. He also said he has looked into legalising ARA and believes that “they have the tools to do so and that good will was the only thing that was missing, which he promises to do if elected”. He also said that he is “committed to the cause of animal welfare and affirmed that he will he will be involved in ARA’s future projects”. Rui Cristina also gave a special mention to the local schools in the area that have contributed to the book and said “how fulfilling it was to see children from where he also went to school care so much about animal welfare”. He believes that education is the way forward and partnering with these schools will bring the change that is needed in the fight against animal cruelty. He further reminded us that his party has always worked closely with this cause and that PSD president Cavaco Silva passed the Protection of Animals Act in 1995 and in 2018 the abolishment of Euthanasia of healthy animals was passed and was widely promoted by former PSD leader and current president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Sid Richardson was moved by all the schools for their involvement in the book and for everyone’s contributions which has fuelled a new chapter for them. He said that this is just the beginning and this book has allowed them to further their work and that they have animal welfare projects on a national level to come because of it.

For further information, please visit https://animalrescuealgarve.com/en/