We were just a husband and wife saving dogs we saw that needed help, until the Brazil floods changed everything! We were fortunate our house didn’t get destroyed by the floods, but the aftermath meant we couldn’t bay bills and our home was taken by the bank. However, Dogs in Brazil still survived as a rescue organization; things are just a little more difficult now!
Where is your organization based out of?
We are in Teresopolis, Brazil, which is a town in the mountain region of Rio de Janeiro about an hour and a half from Rio Central.
What year was Dogs in Brazil established?
We got our license in 2012 and started operating as an NGO in Feb 2013 because it took so long to open a bank account for a charity here in Brazil. The bureaucracy here is huge. We have been rescuing street dogs for twelve years now. The first decade we funded totally ourselves; it was only after the disaster that we started to receive help.
Do you have a staff?
We don’t have any staff. We are a husband and wife team. Our first volunteer from abroad came in May this year and we have had two more since. We didn’t have accommodation for anybody until we recently moved (three weeks ago). We have three local volunteers, as well. We also have another German volunteer arriving in September.
Are you currently fundraising and for what purpose?
We are always fundraising and it is never enough. There is always one more dog and because we take the sick and most vulnerable, most of the time vet bills are high. We have quite a few disabled and old dogs, too. We have many victims of neglect and cruelty. We are building kennels still here after our recent move, as we have dogs in every room in the house awaiting their kennels to be built. They all need little houses to sleep in as here in the mountains at night it can go down to zero and during the stormy season rain lashes down heavily. We build our own dog houses. Our current volunteer from England is here to help with the building work so we can get the infrastructure sorted out. We have had to take two dogs since we arrived here and have only been here three weeks. Kennels are an on going thing.
Please describe type of animals you are working with.
We have dogs with mobility issues, one with neuro problems, victims of abuse, old dogs, two of which are 15, (we know their stories), two dogs that cannot get on with others, one incontinent dog, one with allergies, and one with renal failure, at the moment. We have a few here that are healthy and have made good recoveries. I am trying for homes for them. We recently sent two young dogs to Canada and I am trying to increase the number I can send to other countries where dogs are treated as part of the family. It is extremely difficult to find homes in rural Brazil where dogs will be treated as family members. Most are used as door bells on chains or left to eat scraps and wonder the streets all day. The street dog population is huge here.
What is your favorite story?
Probably Guga’s story. We picked him up as a real old dog after feeding and treating his mange in the streets for three months. We didn’t have a cent to spare and nowhere to put him. He was getting way too old and had lost most of his teeth. We got him just days before the disaster here. We found out all of his background from a guy that worked for his owners and saw them throw the dog out in 1998. I love his story because he is still with us and he was so lucky. He would have died in the disaster if we hadn’t picked him up when we did. He is now 15 and still plodding around. The long version is here as it appeared in Care2. He wasn’t by far the worst we have ever taken, though. He used to cry with pleasure when we gave him affection. Such a beautiful old warrior and a survivor. He lives in the house with us and ten other dogs.
Why do you think people want to volunteer with your organization?
I think a lot of people who volunteer and who will be visiting are drawn by our Facebook page where they can watch the progress of the dogs on a daily basis. Many of our permanent residents have their own fan club. Oscar, Henry, Daisy and Joey are probably the most popular. I get to know and interact daily with many of the people there. We are a bit like a canine soap opera except it is reality. People see our daily ups and downs. It can go from sheer joy when one makes it to deep sorrow when one doesn’t. Fortunately more make it than don’t and that is what keeps us going.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Seeing the dogs get well physically and mentally. Giving them cuddles. Watching them learn to trust and love again.
Read more about Dogs in Brazil: http://www.dogsinbrazil.com/index.htm
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