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Belgian charity in Spain rescues 18,000th dog - and seeks new carers
"You cannot save all dogs of the world, but you can save the world of one dog." That is the slogan of Belgian organisation Shin (Spanish Dogs in Need). Based in Spain, the organisation rescues, rehabilitates and finds a home for dogs dumped on the streets or at killing stations. At any given time they have 600 dogs in their care, making sure they are loved and looked after until they find their permanent home.
It all began 18 years ago when founders Fabienne Paques and her husband Dirk wanted to move to Spain for the beautiful sunshine. When she dropped off her small dog to a dog hotel for the weekend, the owner told her about something shocking and wanted to show her. Walking deep into the mountains, they arrived at a killing station, with more than 40 dogs in small kennels, waiting to die.
"When I saw those animals about to die, I called my husband and told him we have to do something," Paques says. They began rescuing every dog they could, renting multiple kennels to house and take care of them. Dirk would take polaroids of each animal and show them to tourists on the streets. The organisation grew and now with more than 400 volunteers and 18 long years of work, Shin just rescued its 18,000th dog.
"It feels great, but at the same time it feels sad," Paques says. "We should not be here to save dogs from killing stations. We should not be doing this any more." She is proud of what the organisation has accomplished, though, as every dog deserves a chance. When people adopt, they get a companion for life.
Ina Balsmeyer adopted her "little one", Leni, six months ago. The five-year-old Maltese Bichon and Balsmeyer have changed each other’s lives for the better. Leni was rescued by Shin from a killing station in Spain and was said to need immediate help. When Balsmeyer saw her photo, she knew immediately that this was the dog for her. "I am sharing my home with a lovely soul,” Balsmeyer says. "I feel that I make her happy, which makes me happy."
The process to adopt a Shin dog is a simple one - but it takes time. Since the organisation and animals are based in Spain, people looking to adopt must wait for their new friend to arrive. After having your home checked to ensure the animals are going to safe places, a volunteer will travel with your new pet and bring them safely to your home.
"We need to find the right people to adopt the dogs with no chance, in order to give them the chance they deserve," Paques says. See the current list (and photos) of dogs seeking a home here.