You may have noticed recently that we’ve started an ongoing (indefinitely) promotion whereby we’re donating €10 of every new sign-up to our holiday rentals section to registered animal charities. We had dozens of comments either direct from charities or suggestions from their supporters on the original post.
One name that had a flurry of support was that of Maz, a lady who runs a rescue centre here in Almería.
Unfortunately in this instance we couldn’t include Maz in the scheme because she is not a registered charity. Rather, she is a lone lady giving her own time and money to take in and re-home dogs. However, with all the lovely words and support Maz received I felt I needed to meet her.
There are many unsung heroes in Spain, like Maz, dealing with enormous animal welfare problems – the scale of which is unimaginable by UK standards. Maz is just one of an army of individuals all over the country saving dogs and cats in their own time and on their own dime (as our American cousins might say). It’s a losing battle let’s be honest, but we have huge respect and admiration for those who commit to and give what they can to ease the problems in whatever way they can.
I wanted to know what makes Maz tick… How does someone come to devote their lives in this way?
Maz came to the area in 2001 with her husband and their dog, largely motivated by the positive effect on her husbands health. She soon came to love the place and they settled well. In the earlier years she got involved as a founder member of a couple of local animal charities having rescued her first dog here. It was in a terrible state with huge problems including a gun shot wound. Maz hadn’t been involved in animal welfare in the UK having been so busy with a career in residential health care. Animal rescue wasn’t something she had planned to do, she just seemed to fall into it as so many do out here in Spain.
Sadly when Maz’s husband passed away she had return to the UK for a little more than a year, to deal with some of her own health issues. Whilst away her friend Sandra had asked to use her kennels to house puppies and it seemed only natural for them both to develop the centre on Maz’s return. Due to work commitments Sandra had to pull away after a period of time, and of course Maz continued with the work they had both started. Over the years it has become an all consuming passion. Earlier this year (2015) Maz had more than 70 dogs in her care, at the moment there are 47. Having visited the kennels I must say they are very well kept, fed well and look as healthy and happy as dogs in these circumstances can.
In her words she has some dogs that are not suitable for adoption for various reasons and she is committed to looking after these animals and giving them a comfortable environment to live out their days. The majority however, are up for fostering and adoption and Maz has placed hundreds of ‘lost causes’ all over Spain and throughout Europe already over the years.
In her sixties and with health issues of her own Maz works long hours looking after the dogs with a little help from volunteers and friends. She spends pretty much all of her own money on caring for her dogs and receives help in the form of donations be that in the form of money, time, food, and materials to keep the centre going. It’s a constant struggle financially and practically, but somehow she manages.
On top of all that, Maz is prepared to drop everything in an emergency and dash out to rescue a dog in distress, day or night. A recent case earlier this month was ‘Gary’, a poor dog in a terrible state with matted hair, clusters of ticks and fleas, in severe pain, and had been left tied to a rock for some time (click here for a photograph – please don’t if it might upset you). Sadly this one didn’t make it, but many have, and many more will thanks to Maz’s tireless efforts. Surprisingly, some good has come of the incident though. Gary’s plight was reported by a group of local teenagers, and as a result a few of them have been affected enough by events to volunteer to help around the kennels in their spare time.
Maz calls the dogs her dogs, and clearly loves them all as such, but knows that for most her place is just a stepping stone to a better life. My hat is off to this wonderful lady who is so full of energy, and so full of love for the unwanted and abandoned.
Want to help or volunteer some of your time? Maybe you can foster or adopt a dog? Connect with Maz via her Facebook page. (a particular need at the moment is – indestructible – dog toys should you have any laying around)
Click here if you represent a registered charity and would like to find out more about benefitting from extra funding.
Click here if you are a holiday rental owner and would like to find out more about registering your holiday property while benefitting an animal charity.
Alan, along with Elle, is the owner of Spain Buddy. He was born in the North of England (Lancashire) and travelled extensively before eventually settling in Almería. Alan has 3 sons from the first of his 18 marriages, (Sam, Joe & Ben) who are all now adults. You can read more articles by Alan on his personal blog at AlanGandy.com and see more of his photography on his photography website as well as on Flickr and Instagram.
Also, for less than the price of a cup of coffee each month you can help support Alan’s photography (and get some freebies into the bargain). Click here to visit his Patreon page to find out more.