Lucky and Diego both have something in common. They live at the animal shelter Societé Protectrice des Animaux de Genève in Bernex. My daughter and I first visited the SGPA this past March on one of the four days they open their doors to the public and encourage people to take the dogs for walks.
Our first trip touched my heart in so many ways.
There were 36 dogs ready to be taken out for a walk. The photos posted at the entrance are of dogs big and small; mixed breeds and purebreds. It is difficult to understand how they arrive here, but they are victims of divorces, deaths, moves, bad decisions and in some cases saved from abusive owners and other shelters.
On this rainy Sunday afternoon it seemed as if there would be enough people to walk all the dogs. There were families with small children, young couples, single people and groups with their own pets who wanted to bring a shelter dog along for their afternoon walk. Identity cards were exchanged for dogs and every dog -but one- raced out the building with a smiling person in tow.
Some folks came to look at dogs to adopt but this is done on other days. The process of adopting a dog, or any other animal, is taken very seriously at SGPA. Adopters are encouraged to consider the impact on their life of this new union and to spend time with their potential new pet in order to ensure that their personalities are compatible. If for any reason the adopter wants to return the animal, the SGPA will take it back without any questions or judgments.
The facility at SGPA is large. Not only do they house dogs but there are cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and I happened to see an enormous rat in a large cage. It should be said that SGPA does not euthanize their residents. In order to maintain healthy and happy animals they have veterinarians on hand as well as animal trainers. I imagine this is financially costly but, according to their website, the SPGA does not receive any subsidies from the Etats de Genève. The organization is run on donations, bequests and many volunteers.
My own mother thought it was risky for me to take my animal-crazed daughter to walk a dog. Due to the amount of travel our family does in the year, I know that a dog is not a feasible option in our household. On the other hand, we can appreciate and support the work that the SGPA is doing for abandoned animals.
If you would like to help the Societé Protectrice des Animaux de Genève, there are many ways:
- Adopt an animal if you are considering a new pet (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 14:00-17:00).
- Walk a dog (Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays 14:00-17:00).
- Donate CHF 40 a year –it is tax deductible and you will receive the SPGA magazine in French.
- Give cat and small animal food.
- Give animal baskets, small-animal cages, blankets and towels.
For more information you can visit their website at http://www.sgpa.ch/.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.