This month’s torrential rains and floods destroyed the S.O.S. Kennels in Los Barrios, putting over 200 cats and dogs in peril. People from Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar came together within an hour of hearing the news and came equipped with blankets, food, water and temporary shelters for the animals. Generous donations from both sides of the frontier have given hope.
This is a dramatic story with a very happy ending thanks to the unified efforts of Campogibraltareños and Gibraltarians.
Dramatic photos show the damage caused by the torrential rain during the first weekend of March which destroyed the animal shelter and left over 200 cats and dogs struggling to keep their heads above water.
The news broke on Sunday morning. The volunteers announced that they could not access the facilities and that the lives of their animals were in danger. They did not know at the time how they were going to save them.
Vehicle access to the site became impossible. The first volunteer responders were shocked to see that the kennels were completely filled with water and the animal’s lives were in grave danger. Ana Montesdeoca, one of the volunteers at the kennels, told ReachExtra that she had found that some dogs had been swimming for hours because they could no longer stand up in the water:
“This recent flood has completely destroyed our shelter, we’ve lost everything: cages, kennels, blankets, food, fridges, medicine, our veterinary clinic… all of it”.
But thankfully, groups of kind-hearted Campogibraltareños’ and Gibraltarians took action. Dozens of people arrived in off-road vehicles in such numbers that a queue formed at the entrance.
After an agonising few hours, volunteers, members of the shelter and locals put their names forward to help rescue the animals and transport them to municipal sports facilities which were made available by the Los Barrios City Council.
This was no easy feat; massive amounts of water had already accumulated throughout the shelter and all its entrances. But, in the end, they pulled it off.
However, even after safely transporting the animals, there was more work to do: blankets, food, water and temporary homes were desperately needed…
All the dogs were taken in by animal “protectoras” and families in the area on a temporary basis: “All these animals needed to be moved out of harm’s way and all but one are safe and sound. For now, the shelter situation is under control”.
One of the dogs who was awaiting to be transferred to his adoptive family in Germany, named Krasti, sadly died: “It could have been worse, but I don’t know if it was only Krasti”, Montesdeoca explained.
When the storm subsided … it was time to rebuild. S.O.S. Perrera Los Barrios also asked for help. They needed hands for the clean-up and fix the mess. And again, people heeded the call to action. Likewise, financial help was requested to repair the damage and they have set up a bank account which you can donate to:
Bank: ES43 2100 8568 9202 0004 6689 La Caixa.
Shops in Los Barrios have offered their locations as collection points for food and materials which will then go to the kennels. Animal charity groups like “Animals in Need” have also managed to raise over €20,000.
S.O.S. Perrera Los Barrios said: “We want to thank all those people who have helped us to save the dogs from the shelter, without your help, none of this would have been possible”.
“The facilities are being repaired and things are now ready for our dogs to return. We cannot express our gratitude enough to everyone who gave their all to save the animals”.
Ana Montesdeoca confesses that they have no words to express their gratitude: “The response we have received has been awesome. Were at a loss for words of how to express our gratitude for the way in which people have gone out of their way to show their solidarity.”
“People jumped into the flood on Sunday, literally risking their lives to help us get our dogs out. And we are still receiving donations, fundraisers are running and shops are offering their premises as food and supplies collection points. And not only from Campo de Gibraltar, but also from Gibraltar. It has been great”.
But, there is still more work to be done:
“We are still hard at work. It will take us a long time to return to normal, not just because of the amount of water and mud, but because we have lost everything. We need so many things…. Containers to store items, restoring the operating room and the veterinary clinic; we have lost most of the huts, beds, medication… everything”.
An Appeal for New Premises
But there is another challenge. S.O.S. Perrera Los Barrios has for a long time been appealing for alternative premises which do not flood whenever it rains heavily.
“We hope that after this tragedy, the municipalities of Campo de Gibraltar that granted the license for the kennels in this flood-risk area, which we have been in for years, take a hand in the matter so that these animals can be accommodated in suitable premises – that is their responsibility”.
Montesdeoca is adamant that the kennels need to be outside the flood plain:
“We are right next to the Palmones River, we do not have a proper drainage system and floods are constant and getting worse. We need higher land with adequate drainage, electricity and water; then we can do all the rest – starting again from scratch and move forward”.
In fact, a campaign has been launched on change.org under the slogan “New facilities for the Los Barrios kennel”. It already has almost 8,000 signatures.