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Nerina Association

We are a Ticino couple, Nathalie Weiner Zeli and Spartaco Zeli. We are both about fifty years old. We have no children by choice and we lived a peaceful and normal life in our beloved Ticino. We decided in 2015 to acquire an apartment in the heat even in winter and almost by accident we ended up on the island of Boa Vista, Republic of Cape Verde. We liked the island immediately: endless beaches, crystal clear sea, exceptional fish, smiling people and simplicity of life. Already on the occasion of our first stay, we met Nerina (its owner called her Toquinha). Nerina accompanied us for all our following stays. Until mid-March 2016. Upon our arrival, he did not make us the usual parties. Lame after a car accident, with an injury on the back and mother of a puppy of a month and a half.

Arriving on Friday, the situation caught us unprepared … and Sunday the disaster. To shelter from the sun, the puppy had lain under a parked car. When the car left he crushed it. Since then, Nerina and her puppy, whom we called Puce, have not been alone on the street anymore. Spartacus and I have always had animals. Our love for them has always been there, but from that precise moment our life has changed.

We had to deal with the animal health situation on the island. An association made somersaults with very few means available. An example: x-rays were taken at night and secretly in the center of health. The two dogs left among a thousand vicissitudes with us in the direction of Ticino. Puce recovered the use of his hind legs in two months but Nerina was carrying a kidney infection. After 4 months of treatment and love, she reached a state of no return … we had to put her to sleep forever.

As I said before, Nerina has changed the course of our life. The first decision was to found the Nerina Svizzera / Boa Vista Association. This association was created with the aim of guaranteeing a support point for local Boa Vista associations of a logistical and financial nature in Europe. In 2016 we purchased land in the industrial area of Sal Rei (capital of the island) and with the free help of a Ticino architect we designed a refuge with clinic for the island and in May 2017 we began construction.

In July I went down permanently and my husband Spartaco joined me in August. In January 2018 we were already welcoming the first dogs and in February the first patient. The structure consists of a stall part, in which we can accommodate sixty dogs and twenty cats, and a clinic complete with waiting room, examination room, ray room, operation room, post-operation room, pharmacy , laboratory and hygiene / technical room. Also in 2018, it was decided to found the “Associaçao Nerina de apoio aos animais” here too. We did it in July.

The objectives

Since the beginning of our project, we have pursued a policy based on five objectives:

  • Provide professional and modern veterinary support for all dogs and cats on the island.

To achieve our first goal, we started working with the only veterinarian present on the island. We soon realized the amount of work that was overwhelming us. Here are diseases that have become rare in Switzerland.

With the fact that this veterinarian also works for the ministry of agriculture and the environment, we realized that we could not count on him in emergencies. So we looked for a vet who worked only for us. We found it in the person of Laura Peteiro Sanchez who has been working for us since October 2018.

  • Provide protection to endangered dogs and cats

During our activity we are always available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to protect dogs and cats in danger. In fact, at the beginning of our business we were confronted with several cases of poisoning and we had to react and empty entire neighborhoods of the capital to protect the animals from the risk of being poisoned.

  • Promotion of responsible adoptions

In the first year of activity, we managed to get 34 dogs and 2 cats adopted.

  • Carry out frequent and free sterilization campaigns

In 2018, with just two campaigns, we managed to run 420 of them. From 2018 to today we have operated more than 1100 dogs / cats. This year 2 campaigns have been carried out in collaboration with Tierärztepool.de, and the third has just ended and was carried out from 14 to 18 November 2019. Clearly our veterinarian sterilizes almost daily. Altogether we have sterilized around 1300 animals.

  • Awareness / education to dog and cat owners

In 2018 we started working with elementary school kids. Education is a constant part of our work. It is mainly about raising awareness of disease prevention and animal care. We then move on to behavior when confronted with dogs. Here if a dog barks, he risks receiving stones and the dogs hardly forget.

Today we work at full capacity. Our association works for 3 full-time people. Our team is made up as follows: the veterinarian, a stall care manager who lives at the shelter and a woman to do the cleaning. The two of us do a little bit of everything: from assisting the veterinarian during operations to dressing changes, from collecting wounded animals on the street to preparing animals for operations, from raising funds to doing accounting, not to mention the replacement of absent staff for the day of weekly leave or holiday or illness.

Our refuge today has about seventy dogs and about forty cats stalled. We are a little overbooked. In order not to miss anything, we also have Romeo, a donkey cub who lost his mother following a car accident and Dorotea, an Olivacea turtle who got caught in the fishermen’s net and has injured fins.

Those who visit us are amazed because we know all our guests by name. It is absolutely normal for us. In addition to loving him as if they were ours, when we talk to the team it is important to have a reference linked to a name. Throughout the city of Sal Rei we have dogs that respond to the name we have given them: Scotty, Nerona, Pretinha, Pirata …

We have created a health report that accompanies the life of our friends. We are vaccinating a lot and in doing so we now have a Cape Verde document.

Projects and future

We still have plans for our structure in mind. A quarantine area is under construction, but coverage, water and electricity are still missing. We lack the funds and the time to finish it, but it is taking on vital importance. Just think that in the event of an epidemic we would endanger stalled animals. In the future we would like to be able to put the microchip on all dogs and cats with owners. The goal is to have a database like in Europe.

We collaborate with all the associations scattered on the islands of Cape Verde and from this collaboration came the idea of ​​creating a hat organization to bring everyone together in the interest of protecting animals. In short, there is still a lot to do and we do not lack the desire. The situation here is difficult and sometimes very hard to live. What drives us forward, are the results. They are tangible and reaching a state of good coexistence between men, dogs and cats is not impossible.

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