Pet me, I'm yours

Kat Hirsikangas & her rescue dogs

After last week’s interview with Vera Thorenaar of Galgos en Familia, I came into contact with Finnish blogger Kati Hirsikangas, who adopted her own rescue dog Silver through the organization. Kati not only writes about (rescue) dogs, she also fostered about 20 dogs to get them ready for their adoptive families, and has 5 dogs of her own. So, it was clear to me that she deserves her own interview on the blog…

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Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Kati Hirsikangas, I am 41 years old and live in capital area in Finland. I share my life with my partner, two sons and five dogs, four of them have been adopted from shelters in Spain. I work in a digital marketing company, most days I do what I like best: create content and write. I spend a lot of my free time also writing; I have a blog focusing on rescue dogs.


How did you get started with animal rescue work?
When I was a very young girl I kept my mother on her toes. I used to catch runaway dogs from the streets and brought them in our house and built a shelter in our cellar… Dogs have always been very dear to me and we had dogs when I was still living at my childhood home. There was a time in my life when I was living abroad, studying, having babies, living a life of a working single mom when I was not able to have dogs but during that time I looked after my friends dogs.
More involved in helping dogs I became a lot later, after my busy life had settled down a bit. We got a dachshund puppy at one point and later wanted to have another dog. It was then when I discovered the situation in Spain. After adopting the first dog through Espanjan Koirat I became involved with the rescue organization in different tasks. I was also involved in the re-homing process which required frequent visits to shelters in Spain, home interviews etc. I was part of the airport team that meets the dogs on arrival and hands them over to their owners, events, communications, fostering of course, flight arrangements – many different things. Due to lack of time I am currently only helping here and there. Being 100% committed to charity work is a very difficult act to balance when working full time, having a family and owning five dogs. Maybe someday! I have a little dream that after my children have left the nest I will move back to my previous home country UK where I lived many years before and start up a little shelter for abandoned greyhounds.

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You have fostered a lot of dogs, can you tell us about this experience?
We have had about 20 foster dogs who have stayed with us while waiting to find their forever homes. It is a very rewarding job and exciting too. I do sometimes feel very sad when a foster dog leaves but that’s how it is suppose to go. I am very fortunate that some of our foster dogs have found homes close to us and I can see them and we occasionally take care of them when their owners travel etc. Also, Facebook is such a great tool to keep in touch with their homes. It is lovely to be able to follow the dogs life after being re-homed.
There are many things to consider of course when fostering. I always choose dogs that are most compatible with our own dogs. Also of course when fostering you need to be prepared for anything, as you do when adopting a shelter dog. There might be issues with the dog and you need to be prepared to deal with those. I have had great experiences with our foster dogs and it is a blessed situation to be in – the link between shelter and home. I see fostering as a priceless experience and also a very important when re-homing shelter dogs. The foster family collects so much data of the dog and this information is so useful when choosing a family for the dog. Naturally you learn a lot about the dog while living under the same roof – and if there are issues with the behavior the foster family can start addressing them.


Did you end up keeping any of your foster dogs?
We did keep one of our foster dogs, the second one we ever fostered! There had been talks previously that we might do so, so the decision was nearly done when we picked up the dog from the airport. The dog was our Arturo from BaasGalgo. He is such a great dog and really opened my eyes to see the situation of Galgos in Spain.

What are the stories of your own dogs?

Our dachshund called Maserati has been with us since he was a puppy. He is from a good breeder here in Finland. Typical to his breed; barks a lot guarding our house, very stubborn but truly a lovely and sweet boy.
Jimi is our first rescue dog, in some ways I think is the “dog of my life”. Without him, I would not have become involved in rescue. He is a little terrier mix and was found from the street in Malaga and stayed at Protectora Malaga before flying home to us one cold January evening. He has some issues,  especially with new people and situations so we try to give him a calm, steady life without stress. He is a great, obedient, cute little boy.
We met Pippa while on holiday in Fuengirola. She had been left at the killing shelter, probably because the very first night on her arrival there she had puppies. Pippa is a Podenco. She might be even as old as 10 years now, quite funny little dog. Great nature and makes everybody smile. She is probably the easiest of our dogs, no problems with her whatsoever.
Arturo is the most handsome Galgo in the world! He is from Cordoba and when he was found he was in a terrible state, there was no certainty if he would make it. He did. He is gorgeous and lovely, very brave and social which is not always so with Galgos. Very calm at home but full of fire outside, especially at the dog park where he can run free. He has very high level of hunting instinct so that does give some limitations to what you can do with him.
Our latest arrival is Silver – we call him Musti. He is a Galgo mix from Galgos en Familia shelter and we have had him since September. He was found in the rubbish as a puppy, and he is about 8 months now. Very active and quite crazy too but I guess that’s the way young dogs are! Needs lots to do and activity, he has been a pleasure to train because he learns quickly, smart boy. We take him to agility class which he seems to enjoy a lot! A lot of work – puppies are!
We lost our dear Basset Hound Miio this summer due to cancer. We only had her a bit over 2 years, she came to live with us when she was 8 years old. She was from a breeder in Finland who wanted to get rid of her because she was getting too old to breed more puppies.
She was wonderful and we miss her every day.

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How is the situation in Finland regarding animal protection?
In Finland things are a lot better compared to many other European countries. No stray dogs here – if you see a dog running free without an owner they in most cases are runaways and desperately looked for. There are only a handful of dogs in shelters in Finland; which in my opinion justifies the fact that people adopt dogs from other countries. If you are not able to find a suitable dog from Finland – why not turn to a registered rescue organization that helps dogs abroad? However, the situation regarding cats is worse. Thousands of cats are abandoned every year and euthanized. Not good.
Generally people look after their dogs pretty well and if they need to give up the dog, the owners usually look for a new home themselves. But regarding the animal protection law – there is lot to be done. Currently it is very hard for animal protection to do anything when animals are not looked after and are mistreated. It takes a long time and the situation has to be really bad before the animals are taken into custody. We have a massive problems with fur farming (terrible) and illegal puppy mill trade. Lots of dogs are transported to Finland from Estonia and Russia and sold here – many of them ill on arrival and end up dying. They come from puppy factories and are transported generally with false passports, without vaccinations so they  are also a big risk to other animals and humans. Luckily the media writes about the puppy mills and animal protection associations have campaigns, so people should be aware shouldn’t buy – but they do. We will have the parliamentary election next spring and I will surely give my vote to a party and candidate who will look into these issues as well.


You also have your own blog about rescue dogs in Finland. How did you get started with that and can you tell us a bit about this?
I have always been a writer so blogging about dogs was quite a natural thing to do. My blog is not only about rescue dogs; it’s also about my own dogs and current events and issues in dog world. I’m very outspoken in a way and want to pay attention also to controversial issues, and writing is such a natural way of expressing myself. I started the blog earlier this year. I have covered topics about the foster dogs we have had, responsible rescue work, our shelter visits in Poland and UK, losing a dog, visits to rescue events, leishmania, vet services, pet supplies – quite a few different things actually! I hope my readers find the blog to be informative, thought-provoking and maybe even entertaining. Blogging is also a great way of helping and spreading the word. You can sit down and write when feeling inspired about something and have few extra hours.

How would you convince people to adopt an animal instead of buying one?
Adopting should always really be the number one choice. The world is full of dogs, cats too, without homes who die at shelters – why breed more? I am not completely against breeding – but it has to be done responsibly and the dog’s health should never be compromised. There are so many dogs needing a new home who are perfect pets. When adopting through an organization a new rescue family has the support and help if needed. But the decision of adopting should never be based on pity. It is a commitment for many years to come – and one needs to ask themselves- am I really up for this? In most cases all goes well but one has to remember that usually it’s unknown what the dog has experienced. There might be problems and the owner needs to be committed. Adopting a dog abroad should always be done through a registered organization that follows all rules and regulations, supports the owners for as long as the dog lives, enforces only positive methods when training/ adapting a rescue dog to a new life.
If thinking of adopting for the first time, it is a good idea to contact rescue organizations, look for information and talk to people who have adopted. In Finland there are quite few rescue events that are worth visiting, it is a perfect chance to also meet dogs that have been adopted and are living their new life.
After adopting my first rescue dog I had no idea what a great journey it started – and that journey continues! I have had the best of times – and experienced some sad and difficult times. I have seen badly mistreated  dogs and those images will haunt me forever. I have lost my faith in humanity many times – but also found it again because of the people who are fighting for these dogs and helping them. As I person, I am wiser and more compassionate.

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Vera Thorenaar, founder of “Galgos en Familia”

Vera Thorenaar, a lady from the Netherlands living and working in Spain, runs the rescue organization “Galgos en Familia” that specializes in re-homing Galgo’s Espagnol (Spanish Greyhounds). This breed suffers mistreatment on a big scale in Spain, and so rescue centers are necessary to limit the damage and save some of these unlucky creatures. Thanks to the efforts of Vera and Galgos en Familia, many abandoned and abused Galgos now live “happily ever after” in their new homes.

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Vera Thorenaar and I live in Alhaurin de la Torre, Málaga, since 1984.
I am originally Dutch but started living abroad in different countries when I was 20 years old. Ended up in Malaga, a place I like very much but the mentality of the rural people towards animals is terrible. In the cities and specially along the coast it is a bit better, due to the influence of foreigners during many years, but not very good either.

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How did you get started with animal rescue?
When I came to Malaga I started helping in the local animal rescue center. Their premises and the dogs and cats were in really bad conditions but at least there was something.
I have always had rescue dogs and cats myself all my life wherever I have lived. They always traveled with me.
Then I started working and with a family and 2 small children I didn’t have too much time to continue helping the rescue center although I have always continued to help them economically.

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How and why did you start “Galgos en Familia”?
The airline for which I was a manager in Spain was closing down and I was severance paid at an appropriate age to stop looking for another job. Just before I stopped working in May 2008, I read an article in a Dutch magazine about Greyhounds Rescue Holland, talking about adoptions of Spanish mistreated Galgos in Holland. I offered my help for assisting at the airport when the people are Flight volunteers (that means that they travel from Spain to Holland and they do not mind to take adopted dogs with them on their flight under their care).
So I started doing that but soon afterwards I started to foster for the shelters GRH workes with (normally in the Seville area). Then I heard that in a killing pound nearby there were many Galgos and I ended up taking them out, putting them in a dog residency which I afterwards could rent on a monthly basis. That’s how it all started.
I wasn’t aware of the terrible things they do to those and other hunting dogs, like podenco’s, once they do not comply with the requirements their owner expects of them. This is either when they are still pups (they select from their many litters) or once they are around 4 years old. They breed a lot so they always have younger ones which are stronger than the “older” ones. You also find dogs at the age of around 8 years who they have used (abused) for breeding, because at their time they were very good hunting dogs. They normally live in terrible conditions.
On the other hand there are the gypsies who try and get easy money out of them. It is impossible to describe in what kind of conditions those dogs live in. They normally don’t see the light of the day because they are kept in how they call it “zulus”, caves.
Galgos are stolen by the gipsies from the rescue centers. Those have normally been spayed so when the gipsy notice that, they are thrown away in wells, canals, hung or just dropped. The dropped ones are sometimes better off because we can find them although they are so terrified that it is very difficult to catch them. And if we cannot catch them it is a big frustration for the rescuers.
I have some contacts with “galgueros” who by now know me and they call me to see if I can pick up their Galgos and they say: “If you don’t I will take them to the killing pound”, which means that they die from diseases or get euthanised. So what do you do?? You say yes, even if you do not have space.

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Why Spain and why Galgos?
Spain because I live here. Galgos because from my first contact with GRH, I got in touch with other Galgo rescues in Europe and the USA. Nevertheless, I love all animals and I have also rescued other kind of dogs and some cats but that normally takes me more time to get adoptions for because my contacts are specialized in Galgos. I can never say NO when I find another type of dog on the street. They finally find a home as well, earlier or later.


What is special about a Galgo?
Well, till you don’t experience to have a Galgo it is difficult to explain. But once you have one you will not want another kind of dog. I always say that having a Galgo is a vice. They are like a mix of cat and dog in their character, very lazy although they like to play and run but they specially like to relax on the sofa. Their face asks for love and they give you much love back. It is incredible that those very sensible, intelligent dogs, after having been mistreated or ignored, have confidence again in the human being. Some of them (the least) have been so much abused that they will never totally trust in human beings they don’t know, but if you have one of those (like me) he will be very happy with that person and that is so much worthwhile. Seeing those frightened frustrated creatures trusting you is the best present ever.


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What are they like as pets?
Even though they are big dogs normally they can live in a flat, as long as they are taken out for walks 2 or 3 times a day because, as I said before, they love to relax a lot also. You should not leave them off leash because they are escapists and not used to the noise of traffic. Ideal is letting them out in a fenced dog park once a day. They need to adapt for some days or a bit more because they are very sensitive dogs and even if it means a change for better, it is a change. They are not used to living in homes so they will have to learn, for example, not to steal food. They have been starving and till they don’t know that they will have food every day for ever it might take some time to teach them, but they learn very quickly and they want to please.

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Do you have adopted dogs yourself and can you tell us a bit about their history?
I first started fostering. I had 5 dogs myself of other breeds. But at the end I had to stop that because I finished keeping them…
My 8th foster dog happened to be with us when one of our dogs died. We decided to keep her. She is called Blanca.
After that we did have a few more foster dogs which already had an adoption family but were waiting for a flight. We knew that they had to go. Then I took in a Galga which started her season and that is always a very stressful situation in the shelter. She had just come in and I hadn’t had the time to spay her. She was a Galga who had been adopted from the killing pound 9 months before by a veterinarian but he returned her to the pound because she had hunted his neighbors cat… She cried the whole time and also whilst she was in the shelter. I took her to my home and she has never  cried anymore since the moment she came here so I couldn’t just return her to the shelter.
The third one is Syrius, a beautiful male but so terribly frightened of people that he even bites them if he can (very, very rare for a Galgo). For me it was love at first sight when I rescued him. His eyes of total fear made me feel so sorry for what must have had happened to this poor creature.
It took me 3 months before he started trusting me. Just me, no one else could approach him well. He was very difficult to give in adoption because people don’t want a dog who may bite other people. My husband said that the 5 dogs we had then were enough, but after 2 years and some months he finally accepted to bring Syrius home and now he is the happiest dog ever. He has a great, noble, sweet character, although he still doesn’t like strange people. He has been with us for now for 1 ½ year.



How would you convince someone to adopt and not to buy a dog?
An adopted dog will never forget that you gave him a second chance. Here in Spain around 200,000 dogs of all kinds are abandoned every year. There is no control over breeding, people don’t like spaying their dogs so there are litters everywhere, especially in the countryside.


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540620_428719170480764_260923793926970_1573030_170734577_n Galan, a rescued Galgo: before and after

How can people help Galgos en Familia?
Spreading the word about this lovely, elegant and sweet breed, and about their mistreatment. They are perfect pets.
Support us with donations. I only depend on donations and this costs a big amount of money because we test all dogs, vaccinate, chip them, passport and spay them, apart from most of them coming in with need of treatments and special food to recover.
Our website is and our Facebook page is galgos en familia.

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Caroline Ooms and her foster/ adopted dogs

Caroline Ooms has been active in animal rescue since she was a little girl. What started out as local initiatives (helping out stray cats and wounded birds), turned into fostering and adopting shelter dogs both in Belgium and in Spain. Read more about her and her life amongst (numerous!) foster dogs below…

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volunteering for Animal Care Espana (ACE)


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Caroline, and I’ve been an animal lover since I was born. There were always animals around at home… mostly dogs & cats, but later also horses, chickens, goats etc. I had my first dog I was responsible for when I was 10 years old. It was a black lab my parents adopted from Veeweyde, our first rescue dog.  As a little girl I was already very much aware that animals weren’t always treated well, and I always wanted to protect them. Even back then…

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little foster dogs

How did you get started in animal rescue?
I started pretty young at a very local level by helping out cats & dogs in the neighborhood. There was always a homeless cat with kittens or a bird in distress… This continued for some years. Later I adopted an old Border Collie from a shelter in Ghent, and a Spanish Galgo from a shelter in Madrid. This is how it all started with the dogs…

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Little foster dog… Now lives with a friend of Caroline’s.


Maxy was fostered by Caroline in Spain and eventually got adopted by her younger sister.

Can you tell us a bit about the dogs you share your home with? What’s their story?
At this moment I only have 2 dogs at home (I had 4 while living in Spain) One is a foster dog called Ula, she’s a Shepherd mix that was saved by Galgos en Familia in Alhaurin el Grande. She was very traumatized and I took her in to give her a chance to overcome her fears and lead a normal and happy life. Since Ula’s been living with me for quite a while I think she will stay with me. Saying goodbye to this sweet dog would be too painful for me, I guess. Then there’s Viggo, my Weimaraner. He is the only dog I got as a puppy: he moved with me to Spain where he became the ‘mascot’ of my B&B, together with some other rescue doggies that crossed my path and stayed with me until we found a home for them. During my Spanish years I had around 10 dogs & cats that stayed at my home, waiting for a better life.

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Ula, Caroline’s Shepherd cross (foster-turned-adopted dog!)

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Viggo the Weimaraner

Why is fostering rescue dogs so important?
There’s nothing more grateful or rewarding than fostering! Especially when you see what a difference you can make for these little helpless souls. I’ve fostered around 10 dogs for shorter or longer periods (also a cat!) and they all learned how to behave inside the house, how to interact with kids or people in general (some where pretty traumatized and afraid of about anything). To see these animals change and blossom every day… There’s nothing more beautiful. The hardest part is saying goodbye when they leave to live with their adoptive families… Some of them keep in touch and send pictures, which is great!

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Little dogs that were fostered at Caroline’s place.

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Are there any organizations you regularly work with, (and why)?
Yes! I am very fond of SHIN (ace) and Galgos en Familia. I know both their founders (Fabienne and Vera ) and I respect what they do enormously! This being said, I know there are many more organizations that do good and wonderful work abroad and in Belgium!

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volunteering for Animal Care Espana (ace)

How would you convince people to adopt and/ or foster a pet?
There are so many dogs and cats that had a rough start in life! They were treated badly, some almost died in killing stations… These animals have been through hell. You can really make a difference by adopting or fostering a dog from a shelter abroad or in Belgium. These animals are so happy and thankful for the second chance they get in life. You won’t regret it

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Volunteering for Galgos en Familia

Thank you, Caroline, for this inspiring interview!

If you would like to foster a dog or do volunteer work for ACE or Galgos en Familia yourself, you can find the necessary information here, here, and here.

Fabienne Paques, Animal Care Espana

Animal Care España (ACE) was founded in 1999 by Fabienne Paques. She was so shocked after seeing a Spanish killing station, that she immediately decided to do what she could to help the enormous population of Spanish stray (and dumped) dogs. My biggest respect for this remarkable lady… Since founding ACE, she has rescued 16 000 dogs, and helped finding them forever homes.


Can you introduce ACE to the new reader?
I founded ACE in 1999. The goal was and is to rescue dogs in Spanish killing stations. 90% of the dogs we shelter come from these stations. We care for them, nurse them back to health an adopt them out in a responsible manner. We give every dog a chance, and so rescue all breeds, especially the ones that need the most help. As we think that every life counts, we also take in “difficult cases”.

Why did you start this organization?
As a child, I already rescued all kinds of animals: I brought home every animal in need (much to my parents dismay…) My whole life I’ve been concerned with animals and people in need. Although lately it seems that animals have taken over… It’s my life’s purpose to do my best for dogs in need, and I go very far in that, even when it seems impossible. Animals can’t defend themselves. Here, in the South of Spain, they’re nothing more than disposable objects. It’s unbelievable what people do to them. On the 11th of December,1999, I started my own shelter, and the motivation never left me… On the contrary, it grows every day.


What is the best part of your job? And the hardest part?
The hardest part is taking the dogs out of the killing stations. We can never take all of them, so we have to make choices… We always go when we have space in our shelter for about 40 dogs, but even then, we have to leave so many dogs behind. It’s very harrowing, emotionally, when you have to drive back, leaving all those other dogs behind. The ones that we can’t take, get destroyed in the killing station. It’s also hard when we rescue a dog in poor health, try so very hard, and then the dog still dies… Little puppies dying in our arms…
The best part is when we see the dogs in their soft beds in their new homes, getting spoiled and being loved. When we have our annual meeting in the Netherlands and in Belgium, we see them again, and then the memories come flooding back: remembering that dog in the killing station in Spain, waiting to be destroyed… Witnessing the “before and after” transformation of every rescued dog is definitely the most rewarding part.



Why Spain? What are the specific problems there regarding (stray) dogs?
My parents had a holiday house here, so that’s how I knew Spain. One day, a friend took me to the killing station LA CALA DE MIJAS, and since that day, I wanted to make a difference. It was hard to get started, people were against it… But I persevered, because I just couldn’t accept this gruesome situation. Today, we have rescued 16000 dogs.
The problem in Spain is that they work with this system of killing stations: young and old dogs alike get just ten days time to get adopted. After those ten days, they are killed. Many get gassed, because that’s the cheapest method. It’s unbelievable, but these killing stations are funded by the Spanish government. Staff are getting paid to catch stray dogs and kill them within ten days. When dogs are brought to the “shelter” by the owner, then they get killed immediately. It’s normal for the Spanish to dump their family dog at a killing station when they no longer wish to take care of it (or when they want another one). Spaying and neutering is not done here, in this very “macho” world. So every female dog gets approximately two litters of puppies a year. The puppies are given as gifts to family members, or even strangers. When they’re no longer “cute”, they get dumped in trash bins or killed in the most horrible ways. You have no idea what we see here every day, the horror. When it comes to animal welfare, Spain still has a very long way to go. The situation is just horrible.


A lot of dogs in the shelter of ACE are Spanish hunting dogs. Can you tell us a bit more about why this is?
The dogs that suffer the most, are the hunting dogs. Not just Galgo’s, but also, and especially, Podenco’s, in all sizes. Most hunters mistreat their dogs in horrible ways. They keep them in tiny, disgusting and dark stables, and don’t provide them with enough food and water. They usually feed the dogs stale bread, to starve the dogs, so that they become better hunters. (Because they’re so starved, the dogs will hunt anything.)
After about four years, almost all the dogs are killed by hanging. Some “lucky ones” get dumped in the killing stations. They are then replaced by “fresh” Podenco puppies, provided by female Podenco’s that are chained and have new litters of puppies constantly.
The Spanish hunting dogs live horrible lives, but nobody takes any action here, because a lot of politicians and “big names” are hunters themselves. They paint their dogs a certain color, or they cut their tails in a certain way, so that they recognize them by the end of the hunt and can use them again the next time (at least the ones that survive…) . Our documentary gives you more information about the fate of the Spanish hunting dogs.


Some people say: “Why bring dogs from other countries here? Our own shelters are full already.” What is your response to this?
I think every dog, cat, anyone in need of help, deserves a second chance, no matter where they are in the world. We rescue these animals, spay/ neuter them, and adopt them out to people in the seven countries we work with. Our animals are perfectly in order with the European laws. They go to their new homes as companion animals and cannot reproduce. They become a wonderful addition to a family. The dogs in Spain are special, in the sense that they didn’t get dumped through a fault of their own, but because their owners just got tired of them, or want a new dog: another color, another breed… Or their dog had a litter of puppies and they rather keep one of the puppies and get rid of the mother dog.
The Spanish dogs that get dumped, are not used to being loved and cared for. They are usually being kept outside, living with other animals in stables. These dogs are so thankful to get a bit of attention, a bit of love. Most dogs at our shelter are so sweet and wonderful. And I can speak from experience, because I adopted 17 of them myself. The biggest one weighs 85 and the smallest 3,5 kg, and they all live together in harmony. They play together, sleep together, never fight… They bring so much joy and humor into the household, and really enrich our life.
Yes, shelters are full everywhere, but we have just as much right to rescue a dog as all the other shelters. It doesn’t matter where it is, but every life has the right to live!

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Some people are also afraid that dogs adopted from other countries can bring diseases with them. Is this fear justified?
Diseases are everywhere. The illnesses we get here in Spain, are all perfectly cure-able. If we go about this in a professional way, there is no problem. Every dog can get ill: in Spain, Romania, as well as in Belgium. Some people just use this argument to spread fear and to make our Spanish dogs look bad, when in fact all of them are being checked for Mediterranean illnesses, and are being treated when they have health issues. They get vaccinated, spayed or neutered, get a rabies shot, de-wormed, get anti flea treatments… When the dog suffers from Leishmania or Filaria, we inform the potential adopters, and in that case, the dog only goes to its new home when the illness is treated and under control. These illnesses are not fatal when the dogs receive the proper treatment. The problem is that often there’s a stigma attached to these dogs in the countries of the adopters, and they sometimes end up getting euthanized because of it (mostly in Finland, Denmark, Norway, less so in Belgium and the Netherlands). Most of our dogs don’t die of Leishmania or Filaria, but from old age or another cause. Disease are everywhere, but with proper treatment, it’s perfectly possible to keep them under control.


Isn’t it very tempting to keep (some of) the animals yourself? And have you already done this?
It’s normal to adopt some of the dogs yourself… You fall in love every day!

If you have any adopted animals yourself, can you tell us a little bit about them?
My husband and me have 17 dogs of our own, and always about 10 in foster until they go home. We have a clean house and a lovely family. It is a lot of work, but we love to live in this adorable, kind and loving atmosphere. Nothing can bring more satisfaction into your house than a dog saved from death, street or hell.


You take in mainly dogs, but I see on your site that you also have some cats up for adoption. What’s the situation regarding stray cats in Spain?
The situation regarding cats is even worse than the dogs. These cats stand no chance at all… We only have a limited amount of cats up for adoption, because we started a project for feral cats: we spay and neuter them, get vaccinated, and then we let them live in freedom in our refuge, on the hill. We feed them and provide them with water, and get treatment when they’re ill. We can’t do more than this. We try to make a difference by putting some cats up for adoption, but it’s very hard. We do what we can. Cats here get poisoned, destroyed, killed… When you go to a killing station and visit the cat ward… It’s just horrible.

Do you euthanize animals in your shelter? Why (not)?
We are a no kill organization. We only euthanize the dogs that are very aggressive, or fatally ill. Otherwise, we fight or every life.


Can you describe a “normal” work-day at the shelter?
Every day is chaotic and different… But in general this is our schedule:
– We start at 8 o’clock… We have 4 wards with dogs, and the dogs of the 1st ward get to go on the “run free field” for one hour. Afterwards they go back inside and we feed them.
– 10 o’clock… Dogs of ward no. 2 in the field, they run for one hour, go back inside and eat… Meanwhile we clean inside. In ward 3 are dogs that can’t be together with other dogs, so we walk them individually. Ward 4 is dogs in quarantine: we clean them and take care of them but don’t walk them, as a precaution.
– 12 o’clock: lunch for our staff and volunteers
– 12u30h: preparing flights: washing and grooming the dogs, prepare flight benches…
– Meanwhile in the clinic our vet works from 9-15h: every day we test dogs, check them, clean teeth, spay and neuter… Dogs with problems get extra attention from our vet.
– Medication rounds every day at 13h: dogs in treatment get their medication; new dogs get de-wormed and checked.
– 15h: second round of cleaning until 17h
– 17h – 20h: evening shift for cleaning and treating dogs that are ill.
– In the meantime we receive visitors, give them information, we film new dogs and put their info on the site, we drive dogs to the airport, where they will begin their journey to their new homes…
Every day is hectic and busy, we really can use all the help we can get.

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How can people help your organization?
Every kind of help is welcome. We do all our work with the help of donations, and with our own money. We work with volunteers and foster parents to the dogs… It’s not easy work, people demand more and more of us, and often seem to forget that we’re a rescue organization. It’s hard work and we really do need help. You can help by virtually fostering a dog , donating food and other goods, donating money for medical procedures… Volunteers are always welcome to come and help.


In which countries can the dogs of your shelter be re-homed?
Belgium, the Netherlands,  Austria, Germany,  Finland, Denmark and Spain.

How would you convince potential pet owners to adopt instead of buy?
When you adopt a stray dog… I don’t have to explain it to you, the dogs do that themselves. I can’t describe in words what you will get back from these dogs…




All photos were provided to me by ACE.


Pol Goossen and his adopted dog, Wap

Pol Goossen is a well-known Belgian actor, and a passionate defender of animal rights. He has an adopted Golden Retriever named Wap, who accompanies him to the benefit shows he hosts to support animal shelters.

Mr. Goossen has also published a book: Dierbaar (Which translates to “precious”. But “dier” also means “animal” in Dutch, so it’s a nice play of words). It’s a collection of columns on animal welfare he’s written over the years.

Voor de Nederlandstaligen: onder deze vertaalde versie van het interview, vinden jullie de orginele tekst, in het Nederlands.


Can you introduce yourself?
Animals. Fishermen catch them, hunters kill them, consumers eat them, animal lovers take care of them. Luckily, I belong to the last group of people. Now, when I’m 64, my love for animals is stronger than ever.

My CV? Owner of one dog/ servant of two cats/ always touched when witnessing intense love for animals/ vegetarian/ almost don’t dare to open the newspaper because I’m afraid to read about animal suffering/ sharing my life with a dog is no sacrifice/ on the contrary: I meet a lot of new, friendly people/ I think animals are more interesting than television, sports or computer games/ it’s a gift to be 60+ / I work less, and spend more time with my animals/ I feel younger when I look at them, or even just think of them/ after I die I don’t want to go to human heaven, I want to go to the one and only heaven for animals, and be re-united with my dog, Wap.


You are a big animal lover. Has this always been the case?
Yes. During my childhood, I was surrounded by several pets. Dogs, cats, sheep, goats, chickens… My mother’s parents were farmers, so at my aunt’s and uncle’s place, I also spent time with cows, horses and pigs. Nobody ever spoke of slaughter to the children, as if they felt guilty about it. So luckily, I only saw the positive things. I only found out about the horror later, with as a logical result that I became a vegetarian.

You perform in benefit shows, of which the profits go to animal welfare organizations. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes. I’ve published a book, a compilation of columns I’ve written over the last couple of years for animal organizations and – magazines. The subject of the columns is animal welfare and – suffering. I organize lectures based on this book, and donate the profits to several animal shelters. I do this for free. The only thing I ask is for my transportation expenses to be reimbursed, and that a water bowl is provided for my dog, Wap. Because he always accompanies me to these lectures, of course…


Where did you get the inspiration for your book?
The way people treat animals. All the animal love, but unfortunately also all the animal suffering that goes on in the world. I thought it was my duty, as a well known person, to speak up for the animals. We should keep on questioning the way people treat animals, and do our best to end animal suffering. Every little bit counts.

You have a dog named Wap. How did he find his way to you?
It came to my attention that somebody wanted to get rid of this “super dog” because it couldn’t compete in shows (due to an aesthetic “imperfection”) I immediately adopted this super dog, and named him Wap (World Animal Protection).

Jeroen G 1

Do you have any other adopted pets?
Two cats, brother and sister. But unfortunately both of them died a short time ago, at the ripe old age of nineteen.
How would you convince people to adopt, rather than buy, a pet?
I would inform them about puppy mills, and all the criminal money-grubbing that comes with it.




Kan u uzelf kort voorstellen?
Dieren. Vissers vangen ze, jagers doden ze, consumenten eten ze, dierenvrienden soigneren ze. Ik behoor gelukkig tot de laatste groep. Op mijn vierenzestigste is mijn dierenliefde groter dan ooit. Mijn CV? Baasje van één hond / personeelslid van twee katten / immer ontroerd bij het aanschouwen van intense dierenliefde / overtuigd vegetariër / gestopt met vlees eten zoals destijds met roken / lig steevast wakker van dierenleed en durf daarom amper een krant te openen / het feit dat een hond al jaren mijn leven deelt is geen opoffering / leer integendeel veel lieve mensen kennen / vind dieren interessanter dan televisie, competitiesport of computerspelletjes / ervaar het als een geschenk om 60-plus te mogen zijn / stort mij daardoor minder op het werk en des te meer op het welzijn van mijn troetels / voel me jonger als ik naar ze kijk of er alleen maar aan denk / wil hond Wap persé overleven / zal hem vlak voor zijn inslapen uitgebreid borstelen zodat hij netjes in die ene dierenhemel verschijnt en mij later netjes kan ontvangen als ik daar ook ooit langskom / wil dus na mijn dood niet naar de mensenhemel maar ook naar die ene, echte dierenhemel / zal dan roepen “Wàààp, ik kom eraan.”

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U hebt een groot hart voor dieren, is dat al van kindsbeen af zo geweest?
Ja, al van in mijn kindertijd hadden we thuis altijd eÉn of meerdere huisdieren. hond/poes/schaap/geit/kip… moeder was van op de koop toe van boerenafkomst, dus bij nonkels en tantes was het ook nog koe, paard en varken. over slachten werd tegen kinderen angstvallig en schuldbewust gezwegen. dus gelukkig zag ik toen enkel het positieve. de gruwel ontdekte ik pas later. vegetarisme was voor mij het logisch gevolg.

U speelt benefietvoorstellingen ten voordele van dieren. Kan u ons daar iets meer over vertellen?
Ja. Ik heb een boek gepubliceerd: een compilatie van columns die ik de laatste paar jaar bijeen heb gepend voor dierenorganisaties en -magazines. Het onderwerp van deze columns is dierenwelzijn en dierenleed. Ik organiseer lezingen gebaseerd op mijn boek, en doneer de opbrengst aan dierenasielen. De lezingen zijn gratis. Ik vraag alleen dat mijn vervoerskosten terugbetaald worden, en dat er een bakje met water aanwezig is voor mijn hond, Wap, die mij naar al mijn lezingen vergezelt.

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U heeft een boek geschreven, “Dierbaar”. Wat was hiervoor de inspiratie?
Hoe mensen omgaan met dieren. al de dierenliefde, maar jammer genoeg ook al het dierenleed dat er te zien, te lezen of te horen valt. ik, bv zijnde, zie het als mijn plicht desbetreffend aan de boom te schudden en ook via mijn pen mijn stem te verheffen. hoe slecht en crimineel het mensdom soms omgaat met het dierenrijk moet steevast en zonder onderbreking aangekaart en aangeklaagd worden. alle beetjes helpen. het zijn geen druppels water op een hete plaat, wel druppels olie in gans het raderwerk.

U heeft een hond, Wap. Hoe heeft hij zijn weg naar u gevonden?
Via via vernam ik dat er iemand afstand deed van een ware ‘superhond’ omdat er slechts 1 testikel was ‘ingezakt’ en er bijgevolg geen prijzen mee te winnen viel. ik heb die ‘superhond’ onmiddellijk geadopteerd en hem wap genoemd (world animal protection).

Heeft u nog andere geadopteerde dieren, en kan u iets over hen vertellen?
Twee poezen, broer en zus, maar helaas allebei kortelings overleden op de gezegende leeftijd van 19 jaar.

Hoe zou u mensen ervan overtuigen een dier te adopteren ipv te kopen?
Ik zou beginnen over broodfok en al het overige grenzeloos gesjoemel en crimineel geldgewin dat meer en meer gepaard gaat met het kweken van … en het gemarchandeer met pups.

” Obscure schuurtjes met tochtgaten, type kerststal. Doch zonder os, ezel, wierook en mirre. Plastieken bakken met daarin pups van alle ras en stand. Kopen? Nog voor het eerste woord valt krijg je een hoopje hond in de pollen geduwd. Niet wild, nee, lief en schijnbaar heel gezond. Hoesten, braken en chronische diarree. Een kruising van een kruising. Inteelt, ook bij de mens terecht verboden. Fokken van honden alleen maar om de platte poen. In één woord: weerzinwekkend.

Een verbolgen baasje had als stuitend bewijs haar levend didactisch materiaal bij zich: een stumperdje van een hond, uitgemergeld en wezenloos in een mand, teef, 10 jaar oud en naamloos. Tot voor enkele weken compleet verwaarloosd: uitgehongerd, amper 4 kg, droge ogen, zware dubbele oorontsteking, aangekoekt vuil van jaren en ontstoken poten van steeds maar in het eigen vuil te moeten liggen. Gedekt worden en werpen was de opdracht. Zo snel en zo veel mogelijk geld scheppen voor de baas, voor de fokker, voor de mother-fucker. Vlaanderen barst ervan. Vlaanderen mijn land, le plat pays qui est le mien.

Een warm en veilig nest is sinds kort haar deel. Toen ze na jaren duisternis eindelijk de frisse lucht intrippelde brak ze harten en liet ze tranen vloeien. Een ondraaglijke stank droeg ze met zich mee. De stank van BROODFOK, één om nooit te vergeten. Wie kan de oudste vriend van de mens zoiets aandoen? Dat zo’n brok ellende nog vertrouwen toont is op z’n zachtst gezegd aangrijpend. Het BROODFOKTEEFJE kan na drie kwart levensloop een bestaan beginnen waar elke hond recht op heeft. Hunkerend om alsnog moeizaam te leren en te ontdekken. Zelfs een zacht kussen zaait paniek, hard beton lijkt veiliger. Na de zesde wasbeurt mét shampoo eindelijk schuim, eindelijk een blanke buik, zacht en lekker ruikend. Roze, ongebruikte voetzolen en de doffe blik in haar ogen zijn voltooid verleden tijd. Een deugniet is geboren: draf en galop met flapperdende oortjes. Na één decennium mogen rennen als een puppy. Geluk heet dat.”

(Pol Goossen)


Emily and Suzanna, “The Sidekick Series”

If heartwarming animal rescue stories with a happy ending are your thing, you’re sure to love The Sidekick Series, a mini-documentary project about adopted pets and their owners. Emily, who’s a freelance editor in advertising and television, came up with the fun idea of making a series of 2 minute documentaries about the relationships between people and their adopted pets. The first two episodes of the series feature Emily herself (and her beautiful cat B.K.), and her friend and creative partner-in-crime Suzanna (with her dogs Guybrush and Hans Gruber).


How & why did you get started with The Sidekick Series?

Emily: After two years of working on a short documentary with Veena Rao (There She Is) while simultaneously freelancing as an editor in advertising and television, I was looking for a short, fun project before I tackled something big again. Having not touched a camera since college, I was also looking to reacquaint myself with shooting. As a person who learns by doing, I decided to dive in and purchased a c100.
Naturally, the first thing I filmed was my cat B.K. Then, when Suzanna’s dog Hans Gruber was featured in an a blog, I thought it might be fun to do a small documentary on their story. I approached her to see if she and Hans would be interested and mentioned I was thinking of maybe doing a few of these – 2 minute documentaries on the relationships between people and their pets (specifically those who had been adopted or rescued).
As a huge rescue advocate herself, Suzanna was instantly on board and before I knew it, we were planning a short series, and I was getting lots of practice with my new camera!


Do you have any adopted animals yourself?

Emily: I have an adopted cat named B.K. that came into my life after someone I know purchased a cat from a breeder and then decided having a cat wasn’t for him. B.K. happens to be a fancy British Shorthair and is really great on camera. I hope you’ll watch his episode if only to enjoy how ridiculously he likes to sit.
With that said, because I have a purebred cat, I think a lot of people assume I bought him from a breeder. While I’m an equal-opportunity cat lover who doesn’t discriminate by breed (I love them all), I know some folks are partial to a particular type of cat or dog. It was important for me to show in the series the range of animals up for adoption, so if someone is looking to have a particular breed they’ll realize adoption is still the way to go.
Suzanna: I have two, both of which you can see as part of our series. Guybrush (named after the protagonist in the Monkey Island video game series) is a pit bull who my fiance and I got from the New York AC&C. He’s awesome and he’s the reason I became so passionate about animal rescue and specifically pit bull rescue. I also have Hans Gruber (yes, named after the villain in Die Hard) who is the start of Episode 2! He is a wonderful mix of breeds – we think possibly dachshund and pit bull, probably like 8 more too – and he is the sweetest little boy. He hails from Georgia, where he was shot and left for dead before being rescued and brought north, where we found him. He was a “foster fail.” We had him for three days and knew he was our forever pup.


How would you convince people to adopt rather than buy?

Suzanna: We have a pretty simple message, but one that we both feel is incredibly important. Our mission, and what we hope people will get out of each episode, is that they should adopt their next pet. There is so much value in pets that come from rescues or shelters and they should not be discounted because of their unknown or sad past. That’s our overarching message, but that’s certainly not the only important one around rescuing pets. We worked to embed individual messages within each video. For example, in Maggie’s episode, we hope people will see how amazing pit bulls are and not adhere to the harmful stereotypes that permeate the media. And in Ella’s episode, we hope people see how important it is to adopt senior and/or medically needy pets. They deserve good homes just as much as young, healthy animals.



What makes adopted pets so “special”?

Emily: It’s hard to just call out adopted pets as special, but I think working through something with an animal, or giving one the experience of having a loving home that’s never known that leads to a very strong bond.

Where can people follow the Sidekick Series?



All photos in this post are courtesy of The Sidekick Series.


Jo Eglen, “Little Hen Rescue”

When I did my first interview for this blog, with Sandra Van de Werd of the organization “Red een Legkip”, she mentioned a similar initiative in the UK, called “Little Hen Rescue”. When I visited their website, I quickly realized that I wanted to interview the founder of Little Hen Rescue: Jo Eglen. She kindly agreed, and I’m happy to share her story with you today…


sponsor hens 070


Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Jo Eglen, I founded Little Hen Rescue in Norwich. I am a mother of two beautiful boys, I’ve been working as a teaching assistant at a special needs school for 16 years, and LHR for 6 years when I am not working.

How did you get started with Little Hen Rescue?
Originally I didn’t plan to start anything like this, I found a little battery hen on the road one day and cared for her, then I heard about battery hens being saved and I had always had a passion for chickens. I wanted to get some more hens, so contacted another rescue from North London to help me, they happened to have a farm very close to my home and offered I went to it to collect my hens.
I naively asked whether all the hens had a home. They broke my bubble by telling me the horrible reality: there were 4000 hens, but they had homes for only 3000. So with only two weeks until going I advertised everywhere for homes, I organized people coming to my garden over the rescue weekend to collect as I traveled back and fourth with hundreds of hens. Managing in the end to collect 500 hens, keeping 10 for myself. They were all transported in cat carriers, dog cages and rabbit hutches I had collected from friends and family!
The sad thing about that weekend was that I was the last person to leave the farm, and I had to shut the door on 800 very unlucky hens that was placed at the wrong end of the cages. My heart broke into a million pieces, I could see their little faces in my sleep, I could hear their deafening clucks echoing around that metal prison. I tried my hardest to find someone with a barn, stables, something, anything to put them in for a week or so, but I couldn’t. My garden could not hold 800 hens safely. After 4 days of searching I went to an old horse yard where I worked as a teenager in exchange for riding the horses: it was empty! I contacted the owner and he agreed I could rent it off him. I excitedly rang the farmer, but I was too late. I was devastated. Especially when calls kept coming offering homes after seeing my adverts.
After this I worked hard preparing and contacted the farmer to ask if I could come next time, he agreed. There began Little Hen’s.

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Heninlid  hen jeff photo

What does the rescue do?
LHR has evolved somewhat into a rescue center rather than just a collection point. We arrange regularly with farmers to collect hens, we transport them, we settle them into sheds and stables and re-home them on to home checked homes. We take every little hen, whether she’s very unwell or not. We take unwanted cockerels, hens, ducks, geese, turkeys and other farm animals. We pay for their care, fix their broken wings and legs, nurse those that need it back to health.

Where do you get the chickens?
We travel all over UK to collect them from caged, barn and free range farms.



How can people help your organization?
Depends on where people are but below is a list of some ways to help us.

– Volunteer on our busy rescue weekends
– Volunteering in the week with general care of animals
– Making fleece jackets for the bald hens
– Fundraising for us
Donating to us
Sponsoring one of our resident animals




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Do you have any rescued chickens yourself? Can you tell us a bit about them?
All my animals are rescued. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t believe in breeding when there are animals already in desperate need. My original hens have all passed away now. I did not bring anymore home because I am at LHR more often than I am at home, my special resident hens are like my own.

What’s special about chickens?
They are amazing, interactive, friendly, inquisitive, simple and resilient creatures. Like with all animals they do have a personality and have their own individual traits.

Where can people find out more about Little Hen Rescue?
To get all the information on us, please visit




All photos in this post were provided by Little Hen Rescue.


An Lemmens, founder of “Pin Up Pup”

An Lemmens is a Belgian TV and radio presenter with a big heart for animals. As soon as she was old enough, she started volunteering in animal shelters. She noticed that most pets on shelter websites didn’t look particularly good on the photos, and that’s how she came up with her idea for Pin Up Pup: she organizes photo shoots with shelter dogs across Flanders. The photos are fun, colorful, and allow the dog’s personality to really shine through. Not only does Pin Up Pup help to find these shelter dogs good homes, the organization also informs the public of the dangers of puppy mills, and gives its audience all the necessary information regarding the adoption of shelter dogs. An Lemmens also wrote a brand new book, where she writes about everything you need to know before adopting your very own Pin Up Pup.

(Voor de Belgen en Nederlanders onder jullie: Gelieve onder deze Engelse versie van An’s interview de originele, Nederlandstalige versie te vinden (even scrollen…) Alle foto’s bij dit artikel zijn van honden die nog ter adoptie staan! Indien u interesse heeft voor één van hen, kan u hier alle nodige informatie vinden.)


Can you introduce yourself?
I’m An Lemmens, I’m 33 years old. You might know me from radio and TV, because I present shows on Studio Brussel and VTM. Or maybe you know me from Pin Up Pup, a project I started a year ago to put shelter animals in a positive light, and to convince people to adopt instead of buy a dog.
How did you become passionate about (shelter) animals?
I’ve always loved animals. All animals. I grew up between guinea pigs, rabbits, geese, chickens, ducks, turkeys, cats, parakeets, dogs, and even a little donkey. Most of these animals were strays, or animals that had been abandoned by their owners. So I guess you can say that my love for “the underdog” has been a part of me since childhood. As soon as I was old enough, I started taking shelter dogs out for walks. I was also interested in animal behavior and training, and medical care for animals. I took care of “palliative” animals, fostered rescued pets, and bottle-fed kittens.


How did you get the idea for Pin Up Pup?
Very simple. I wanted to “promote” shelter animals with beautiful photographs. You have to admit that some photos on shelter websites look really sad. The dog doesn’t look good in them, and it’s shot in a grey and gloomy environment. I wanted fun photos, that allow the personality of the dog to shine through. Pastel colors, a bit of vintage, cute dresses. Photos that don’t make you pity the animals, but that make you go: “Hey, nice dog!” And so I contacted a friend to make the photos, and another friend who’s a make-up artist, and together we do photo shoots of as many Pin Up Pups as possible. As you can see, Pin Up Pup is not a big organization. I literally do everything myself. Every email, every photo, every adoption I follow up myself.


You have several adopted animals yourself. Can you tell us a bit about them?
For that answer, I would advise you to buy the book, where I talk about my five darlings in depth 🙂 All of them didn’t have a great life before they came to live with me, and I’m happy I can provide them with a calm, stable, and loving home.
How would you convince people to adopt a pet instead of buy one?
The most important argument is that for every dog you adopt, you actually save two lives. Of course you rescue your dog, who might have gotten euthanized if he wouldn’t have been adopted. But you also, indirectly, save the life of a puppy mill dog, that doesn’t need to have another litter of puppies, or doesn’t have to get born under horrible circumstances. Your adoption money goes towards a good cause, which helps to save even more lives, instead of towards a deceptive breeder, who gets rich, gives his dogs another beating, and sells you a sick puppy. If you need more reasons, you will find them in my book 🙂



How can people support Pin Up Pup?
By buying my book! The profits go to Pin Up Pup, so we can help even more shelter dogs find their forever home, and we can continue our fight against puppy mills. You can also help shelters by volunteering, or by donating. And inform the people around you about the dangers of puppy mills. Advise those who are looking for a pet to visit a shelter!

Where can people follow Pin Up Pup?
I also post photos of the Pin Up Pups on

And every month, a selection of Pin Up Pups gets published in Woef.




Zoals de meesten onder jullie zullen weten, is An Lemmens een TV en radio presentatrice met een groot hart voor dieren. Zo richtte ze de organisatie “Pin Up Pup” op, om zo asielhonden een betere kans te geven op adoptie. Ze strijdt ook tegen broodfokkers, en heeft net een nieuw boek geschreven, een volledige handleiding die je stap voor stap alle nodige informatie bijbrengt om zelf je eigen “pin up pup” in huis te halen.


Kan je jezelf kort voorstellen?
Mijn naam is An Lemmens, ik ben 33 jaar. Als je me kent, kan dat zijn van radio en tv want ik presenteer oa op Studio Brussel en VTM. Máár je kan me ook kennen van Pin Up Pup, het project dat ik een jaar geleden in het leven riep om het imago van de asielhonden wat op te krikken, en om mensen aan te sporen dieren te adopteren in plaats van te kopen.
Hoe is je passie voor (asiel)dieren  ontstaan?
Ik heb altijd al een grote liefde voor dieren gehad. Alle dieren. Ik ben opgegroeid tussen cavia’s, konijnen, ganzen, kippen, eenden, kalkoenen, poezen, parkieten, honden en zelfs een muilezeltje. De meeste van deze dieren waren afdankertjes of zwervertjes. Je kan dus zeggen dat de liefde voor de “underdog” me met de paplepel ingegeven is. Verder ging ik vanaf het moment dat ik oud genoeg was, veel met de honden uit het asiel wandelen, interesseerde ik me in gedragstraining en medische verzorging van dieren. Ik ving “paliatieve” asieldieren op, was pleegmama en surrogaatmama voor papfleskittens.


Hoe ben je met Pin-Up Pup begonnen?
Heel simpel. Ik had het idee om door middel van mooie foto’s asieldieren beter aan te prijzen. Geef toe, sommige foto’s op asielsites zien er echt te triestig uit. De hond staat er niet mooi op, in een grauwe omgeving. Ik wou vrolijke foto’s waaruit het karakter van de hond tevoorschijn kwam, pastelkleurtjes, wat retro, leuke jurkjes. Foto’s waar je geen medelijden bij voelde, maar juist “hey, leuke hond!” En dus sprak ik een vriendinnetje aan die foto’s wou trekken, en een ander vriendinnetje die visagiste is, en samen trekken we erop uit om zoveel mogelijk Pin Up pups op de foto te zetten. Pin Up Pup is dus geen grote organisatie. Ik doe letterlijk alles zelf. Elke mail, elke foto, elke adoptie volg ik zelf op.

Je hebt zelf verschillende geadopteerde dieren. Kan je iets over hen vertellen?
Daarvoor zou ik je eigenlijk aanraden om het boek te kopen, daar staan mijn 5 lieverds uitgebreid in the picture 🙂 Ze komen allemaal uit niet zo’n kosjere omstandigheden, en ik ben blij dat ik hen een rustige, stabiele en liefdevolle thuis kan bieden.


Hoe zou je mensen ervan overtuigen om een dier te adopteren in plaats van te kopen?

Het belangrijkste argument is dat elke geadopteerde hond eigenlijk twéé geredde levens betekent. Niet alleen het leven van jouw asielhond die moest ie niet geadopteerd zijn, misschien wel een spuitje had gekregen wegens overbevolking in het asiel. Maar ook het leven van een broodfokhondje dat een nest minder moet werpen, of niet in afschuwelijke omstandigheden geboren wordt en z’n eerste levenswerken doorbrengt. Je betaalt je adoptiegeld aan een goed doel die daarmee nog meer levens kan redden, in plaats van aan een bedrieglijke fokker die je geld in z’n zakken steekt, z’n hond nog een schop verkoopt en jou met een zieke pup opzadelt. Als je nog meer redenen nodig hebt, die vind je in m’n boek 😉



Hoe kunnen mensen Pin-Up Pup steunen?
Door m’n boek te kopen! De opbrengst gaat naar Pin Up Pup om nog meer asielhondjes aan een thuis te helpen en de strijd tegen Broodfok verder te zetten. Verder kan je altijd asielen steunen dmv vrijwilligerswerk of donaties. En blijf mensen bewust maken van het gevaar van Broodfok. Raad mensen in je omgeving die op zoek zijn naar een huisdier altijd aan om een kijkje in het asiel te nemen!
Waar kunnen mensen Pin Up Pup volgen?
En ik post de pin Up pups ook op

Elke maand verschijnt er ook een selectie Pin Up Pups in de Woef.






Konijnenhof (“rabbit garden”) is a rescue organization focused on re-homing rabbits and other rodents, and was founded by the Belgian mother daughter team of Sabine Verbist and Yentl Vinck. They take in unwanted and found rabbits, provide them with shelter, observe them in order to get a clear view of their character, and then try to find them the perfect new owner.

Read more about this remarkable duo, that’s passionate about animal welfare, and bunnies in particular…


Can you introduce yourselves?
I am Yentl Vinck and I love animals. I studied art (drawing), but my biggest hobby is doing work for Konijnenhof (“rabbit garden”). My biggest example is my aunt: since several years, she runs the animal rescue Arca Noah in Spain. Apparently it’s in our blood to help of animals in need, and to make sure they receive the care they need. I started a rescue for rodents: Konijnenhof. Since childhood, I spend time with rabbits, so I have a lot of experience with them. Sometimes you see domesticated bunnies on the street, or in a field. People drop them there, because they think the rabbits can surive in the wild, but this isn’t true: they belong in a safe enclosure, protected from the elements. They have the right to get the right kind of feed. It’s wrong to just abandon an animal like that. This is why I started my organization, as a volunteer. Since I want to continue working with animals in the future, I will start a course in animal studies.

I am Sabine Verbist, Yentl’s mother. I work part-time in an institution for people with a mental handicap. In my free time I help my daughter Yentl in “Konijnenhof”. I admire her passion for animals and animal rescue. Together with our family, we help her, and we take care of all the rabbits and other rodents in our shelter.

What does Konijnenhof do?
Konijnenhof is a shelter for rabbits and other rodents. We provide temporary shelter to the rabbits: we take in animals that were found or need to be re-homed, and find them good new owners. Every animal deserves a good home and adequate care. In order to cover the costs for (veterinary) care for the rabbits, we ask the new owners to pay 20 euros per animal they adopt. Some animals can’t be re-homed because they’re ill, need special treatment, or because of their character. They stay with us, but can be sponsored by “foster parents”.


Where do the rabbits in your shelter come from?
People bring in animals they can no longer care for. Sometimes we take over animals from other shelters that are full.

How many animals are staying at your shelter?
We have about 30-35 rodents in our shelter.

What do people have to do in order to adopt an animal from Konijnenhof?
Our shelter is on and Kapaza. People can email us or give us a phone call. We ask them about their experience with rabbits, discuss the housing of the animals (inside or outside).
When you visit our shelter, Yentl asks a couple of basic questions, in order to determine the perfect match between owner and rabbit. It’s important to choose your rabbit not based on their looks, but on their character. Yentl observes the rabbits daily, and so knows all of them really well.
In animal shops, the approach is much different. There, people choose a pet based only on looks (or on the breed of the rabbit), and the result often is that the animals get dumped later on.
When you adopt an animal from our shelter, you sign an adoption contract.


Why adopt a rabbit and not buy one?
In a shop people often impulsively buy a beautiful or cute, fluffy bunny, forgetting that the animal needs care, good housing, and other rabbits around him in order to be happy.

Do you have any adopted animals yourself?
Yes, a dog from Spain. He’s very sweet and affectionate. He’s a mixed breed, and healthy as can be (much healthier than many purebred dogs.)

How old can rabbits become?
Rabbits can live up to 6-8 years old, sometimes even older than that. We had one that lived up to eleven years!

How can people support Konijnenhof?
They can buy items we sell, share our information on Facebook, donate feed or money (BE78 3770 5238 4986 ING Konijnenhof), or sponsor a rabbit.
In the future, we would like to organize sales where we sell stuff that people no longer want, and use the profits to invest in our shelter.


Photos in this post were provided to me by Konijnenhof.

Photographer Elke Vogelsang and her rescued dogs

Elke Vogelsang is a German photographer with a big love for dogs. 
This comes across in her beautiful images, for which her three adopted canines, Noodles, Scout and Ioli, 
often are her perfect models. Elke started volunteering in a local animal shelter when she was still a kid, 
and is currently planning a photo series with shelter dogs in Spain. 
In this interview, she talks about her own three faithful rescues, and what makes them so special. 


Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Elke Vogelsang. I'm 42 years old. Based in Hildesheim, 
Germany, I work as a professional photographer who mostly shoots 
portraits of people and pets, but in my spare time I spend plenty of 
time with my three rescue dogs who frequently find themselves in front 
of the camera.

You have three rescued dogs, and they are the main subject of 
several of your photo projects. Can you tell us a bit about your dogs, 
and how they found their way into your life?
Noodles is a female Galgo Español mix from the south of Spain. She is 
eight years now and joined our family when she was 8 months old. She 
was rescued from a kill shelter in Spain and brought to Germany. She 
is the eager beaver, the clown, she always wants to learn, to play, to 
run and be entertained. She is unintentionally comic sometimes.
Scout is a female Galgo Español mix as well. She is 6 years now. She 
and her 7 brothers and sisters were found next to her dead mother 
somewhere in a field near Madrid. I call her Madrileña mia, my 
metropolitan girl. She is a hunter, beautiful, wary, alert.
Noodles and Scout once saved my husband's live. So I can't put into 
words how much they mean to me.
Last but definitely not least there is Ioli. He is a Spanish mix as 
well. His mother arrived pregnant in Germany in a very bad condition. 
He is one-eyed but not handicapped, sweet as honey, everybody's 
darling, very charming, always funny, sometimes cheeky and insecure. 
He steals hearts.

Captura de pantalla 2014-03-22 a la(s) 01.11.54
Are they the first animals that you have adopted?
They are my first own dogs, but we always had dogs in our family, all 
of which were adopted from our local animal shelter.
Why did you choose to adopt instead of buy?
As a kid I helped out in our local shelter and I know from experience 
that you find the most amazing, gorgeous, friendly animals here. So, I 
know that I will always find the treasure I'm looking for among 
shelter dogs.

You provide your photography services free of charge to animal 
welfare organizations. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I take pictures for my local shelter. Unfortunately, I'm lacking time 
for this. Friends who rescue dogs from Spain ask me to take pictures 
of their foster dogs. I love to meet so many different characters 
among my canine models and am glad to be able to help a bit in finding 
a home for them.
Currently I'm planning a photo series with shelter dogs in Spain.

How would you convince people to adopt an animal from a shelter?
I don't think that rescue dogs are any different from dogs from a 
breeder. All dogs are loveable animals. But it hurts to see that there 
are so many great dogs out there never finding a home.
Some people think that former stray dogs or shelter dogs might be 
complicated or even aggressive, but you find all kind of characters 
among them, just as it is the case with breeder dogs. My dogs would 
have been killed, if it hadn't been for some people getting them out 
of those kill shelter (or in Ioli's case his mother). They are 
friendly, beloved family members. Couldn't wish for more loveable 
companions. I would always adopt.

What's the best thing about your rescued dogs?

Where to start? I don't think I can come up with one single thing, 
it's an allround package. They are charming, beautiful, individual 
family members. They give so much but actually do demand little. They 
are funny, my joy and recreation. They make me laugh and are a comfort.


If you wish to know more about Elke Vogelsang's beautiful work, you can visit her website here,
or follow her on Facebook.

All the photos in this post were taken by Elke Vogelsang.