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Roots and Shoots – For the Love of Mongrels Project

Roots and Shoots – For the Love of Mongrels is the project of two NGOs – “Almada’s Friends of the Animals” and “Less rats with cats” – which joined their forces in order to create more visibility for the plight of Almada’s stray dogs and feral cat colonies.


Currently, the project is making great efforts to gain the support of the municipality and its citizens for the construction of a new multiuse shelter for stray animals in Alamada. Progress has been made, not only in the dialogue with the municipality, which is supposed to donate and license the land patch, but also in the establishing of partnerships with other organizations and institutions, and in our public awareness campaign. In the long run we will also try to build other facilities that are meant, not only to assist the shelter’s animals, but also to serve the general public and to make this big project financially sustainable.

At this point, and following the R&S step-by-step approach, we are raising funds to help mitigate a series of problems that the two associated NGOs are facing (increase in abandoned animals, shortage of food supplies, medical treatments, etc.), and to gather money for our public awareness campaign (events, exhibition, flyers, classroom visits, etc.). When we have reached an agreement with the municipality with regard to the land patch for our shelter, the serious work of fund raising for its construction will have to begin.

For now, we want to share with you one of the latest initiatives we took to gain more ample public support:

From December 11 to 15, 2013, we were at the “Friends of the Earth” Christmas Market, organized by the Town Hall at the “Cultural Workshop Centre” and on St. John the Baptist Square. Many artisans readily contributed their talent to support a cause that is now quickly spreading its roots into the different layers of our local population. Apart from these handcrafted pieces and artworks, we also had handmade objects on sale that were kindly provided by members and friends of both animal NGOs. Without their loving support, the event would not have been half as successful. In addition to the sales result, we received donations in food and money, a part of which reverted to the NGOs, while another part has been kept to finance our project’s activities. However, the financial results of our participation at the Christmas Market, though important, were not the main point of success. What counted most was the great sympathy that passers-by devoted to the animals we brought to the event, and the incredible support that was given to us by all municipality services and workers involved. To be looked upon as a partner of interest is yet another step forward in our relationship with the municipality. It gives us confidence that we will be able to beat the challenges that are lying ahead. Thanks to all who helped us!

Here are some photos from these wonderful days.


The Christmas Market on St. John the Baptist Square in Almada. Our stand is the one on the left where a rather big group of people is gathering.


This is Lia, one of our very successful “ambassadors”. She is the first to participate in our social assistance program at a local home for the elderly. We will soon give you a report on this experience.


Handmade objects that animal friends donated for our sale.


Our dog walks with “adopt-me” vests are very popular. At the Christmas Market they too contributed to the success of the event.

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This is Lila and her new owner (left) who fell in love with her on the spot. Lila has two sisters that are still at the Aroeira shelter, waiting to get lucky.


A look at our “merchandise” and the configuration of our shelves (100% recyclable!)

Roots and Shoots – Amor Rafeiro / Roots and Shots – For the love of mongrels

Citizens of Almada for a multi-use shelter for cats and dogs

1. What is For the love of mongrels?

It is a social movement created in March 2013 by a group of citizens in the municipality of Almada (Portugal), with the aim to find a solution and to mobilize people around a problem in the county that urgently needs to be addressed: a) the precarious facilities of the “Aroeira Shelter”, where the Association “Alamada’s Friends of  the Animals” (AOAAA) is responsible for about 250 dogs, and b) the increase in the number of stray dogs in the county brought about by the economic crisis. In November 2013 we joined Roots and Shoots’s family and started applying the Roots and Shoots framework to our growing project.

2. How will the project try to solve this problem?

Currently, the animals in the “Aroeira Shelter” live in very rudimentary conditions, suffering from cold, rain, excessive heat, fleas and other vicissitudes. The storms are devastating, requiring great efforts to help the animals and to repair the facilities.

In close collaboration with the AOAAA, our project foresees the construction of a new shelter of innovative character. We do not want just another pet deposit. Essentially, we intend to:

• Devise a multi-use shelter

To this end, the new space is going to provide many useful services to the community, which also will contribute to the financial sustainability of the project. Thus, we wish to include a hotel for temporary housing during people’s holidays, a crematorium and a service of grooming and bathing. We also plan to conduct training activities and guided tours, as well as activities that facilitate a bond between our animals and the inhabitants of Almada county, including physical exercise in the company of dogs.

• Promote the reintegration of animals into society

On the one hand, we intend to increase the adoption of animals, and on the other, we plan visits with trained dogs, accompanied by properly prepared volunteers, to those who may benefit from therapeutic interaction with an animal, such as the elderly, disabled, children and young people and their institutions.

The new shelter can thus expand its public utility role and increase the chance of leaving its marginalized place behind.

• Reinforce a new citizenship

We intend to raise awareness among the population, in order to reduce abandonment, to ensure that animals are sterilized, and that people opt for the adoption of an animal instead of buying one.

In this sense, we plan information sessions for adults, supported by local councils, as well as visits to schools so as to raise awareness in the new generation.

A change of behavior in society is the only way that can put an end to a problem created by its own members. Our intention is not only to give a better home to the animals of the helter, but to ensure, above all, that they do not need a shelter in the first place.

3. And what about the cats?

Currently, the “Aroeira shelter” has no cattery, so from the start the dogs have been our priority.

However, we have established a partnership with a local association for the protection of cats called “Less rats with cats”, in order to:

• collect stray animals for treatment/sterilization and subsequent return to their environment;

• build a proper space for the treatment of cats with infectious diseases and for their recovery after sterilization (cattery);

• collaborate with the county’s institutions of social solidarity in a program that fore­sees the forwarding of cats for the company of elderly people who are often lonely.

4. Where will the shelter for cats and dogs be built?

An essential step towards the realization of our project is to obtain a patch of land for the construction of the new shelter. The area where the “Aroeira shelter” is presently located no longer fits for the housing of the animals, for two main reasons:

• Since the land is not owned by the AOAAA (just leased by an individual), the association is not allowed to build permanent facilities on the premises.

• Due to population growth in the area, the shelter is currently located in a residential area, becoming an uncomfortable presence for those who live close by.

Thus, the transfer of the current “Aroeira shelter” to a more appropriate location has the double advantage of improving the conditions for the animals, as well as to solve a problem of the neighboring population who, more than once, has asked for the installation of the shelter elsewhere.

5. What is the support of the municipality of Almada?

So far, the municipality has helped the two associated NGOs through their veterinary services in the sterilization of female dogs and feral cats, as well as in vaccination campaigns.

Apart from this, the AOAAA ensures the reception, food, medical care and hygiene of abandoned dogs on its premises, surviving almost exclusively with the effort and dedication of its volunteers, the membership dues and by collecting donations. The same applies to the “Less rats with cats” Association.

Given the work of the two NGOs on behalf of public health and respect for animal life, we think that the municipality should support this project, particularly in the donation and licensing of the land.

As for our part, we want to contribute with our ideas, work and time, and consider that a fair share of the taxpayers’ money should be used in finding a solution for this problem. As citizens of Almada, we would like to be able to say: “Almada does more for animals.”

6. How can I help?

Dear fellow citizens, if you, like us, feel that love and respect for animals can contribute to a more just, balanced and harmonious society, then join us and find out how you can get involved in this project.



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