AMICI DI ZAMPA
A Dog and Cat Refuge in Alba
Volunteers Caring for our Friends with Paws
Amici di Zampa (Friends of Paws) is a dog and cat refuge in Alba and non-profit organization caring for our furry friends. You can find Founder, Barbara, working tirelessly to advocate for stray dogs and cats, offering a safe haven and helping them get adopted so they can have a better life. Find out more about Amici di Zampa, their dedicated volunteers and how you can help their meaningful cause. Here’s Barbara in her own words…
When was Amici di Zampa founded and what is the mission of the charity?
The Amici di Zampa (Friends of Paws) Association was officially founded on 7/3/2003, founded and promoted by me with the involvement of a group of friends with a common passion for animals. Personally, I had been volunteering at the Alba kennel since 2001, there were a lot of dogs, but I soon realized that I could do very little alone, from this the idea of trying to widen our “circle” was born, giving official voluntary service at the Alba kennel.
The kennel of Alba was and is municipal, we signed a sort of collaboration, through which volunteers were allowed to go to the kennel and take care of the physical and psychological well-being of the dogs hosted. The initial focus of the association was therefore mainly the promotion of adoption of the hosted dogs, also passing through the recovery of some of them who, having never left a kennel and some having never had contact with humans, so some could have behavioural problems due to sensory deprivation. I believe that the work done has been excellent, also thanks to a good group of volunteers who, over time, have approached this volunteer world and are no longer able to stay away from it. The first ever was Daniela, who arrived in 2003, so she has always been a fundamental pillar and my right arm.
Subsequently, we began to deal with cats and the various inherent problems with more and more energy. Cats were (and unfortunately are) abandoned everywhere and, as there were no facilities for cats, we took care of them as we could, taking them home or paying for hospitalizations in veterinary clinics. We then bought some cages to accommodate the little ones waiting to find them a good adoption. The problem with stray cats is much more serious than that of dogs because, above all, there are no clear laws in this regard and the few existing laws are circumvented by all institutions.
In short, it is never anyone’s job to take care of cats. Hence the construction of the first cattery, which stands on an area of about 450 square meters, and after a few years a second structure was added, which we call PARCO AMICI DI ZAMPA, an area/oasis of about 3,500 square meters, divided into zones, with 2 areas intended for dogs. The structures are private, entirely built by us, but what I always want to clarify is the element of being PRIVATE, indeed very private in that we have neither had nor receive subsidies from any public body. The refuge structures are entirely maintained by us volunteers with the contribution of private individuals who often prove to be very generous. The maintenance costs are crazy, but you can’t imagine it if you don’t see it with your own eyes.
I can say with absolute certainty that our main mission now is the STERILIZATION, of dogs and cats, male and female. Only by sterilizing can you stem the problem of canine and feline stray animals…because kennels and catteries should not exist, however, today they are NECESSARY.
Amici di Zampa is fully run by volunteers. Does the dog and pet refuge in Alba have a need for volunteers?
We always need volunteers, there are 2 ways to become a volunteer:
1- Municipal kennel: within the municipal kennel, volunteering mainly consists of walking dogs. In any case, especially at the beginning, the support of an experienced volunteer is mandatory and the age of majority is required. However, consistency is required. We have often found ourselves having to manage volunteers who decide to take a walk with a dog from the kennel to spend an hour or two to combine business with pleasure. It does not work like this…dogs need stability, trust, competence, all things that an “occasional volunteer” cannot guarantee, in addition to the fact that for us volunteers / operators it would become a hindrance that it distracts us from our main goal.
2- Cattery or Parco Amici di Zampa: In our facility, on the other hand, voluntary work essentially consists of cleaning operations, it is all on our shoulders, both from a practical and an economic point of view. We are rather picky, convinced that a deep cleaning contributes to the well-being of the animals, with also the goal to eliminate as much viruses and bacteria as possible. Unfortunately, however, this type of volunteering is often not welcomed because you have to “work”. Of course, the more we are helped in this way, the more we have time to devote to taking care of the animals. We are only a few but a rather close-knit group of volunteers, so we always hope that a volunteer decides to follow our example by becoming, in effect, “one of us”.
How many cats and dogs do you receive each year at your dog and cat refuge in Alba ? How many animals get adopted?
DOGS: Every year, about 90-110 dogs enter the kennel and more or less as many are adopted (or returned to the rightful owner). The number of dogs present is rather stable over the years. The municipal kennel welcomes dogs that are found wandering in the area, while we as an Association collect dogs from people in difficulty, deceased, unwanted dogs (unfortunately), etc. There are 40-50 dogs permanently present at Amici di Zampa.
CATS: Cats withdrawn every year are about 250-270 while those adopted are around 220. Unfortunately, the rest end up permanently in the cattery. In fact, every year the number of cats present is destined to grow. We have lost count but the cats currently present in the cattery are around 350.
Have you seen an increase in abandoned pets during Covid-19? Have you seen an increase in adoptions?
During the Covid-19 pandemic there hasn’t been an increase in abandonments, indeed I would say that, perhaps, they have also decreased while adoptions have increased. The motivation is not to be found only in the possibility of “going out” with the dog as per DPCR, it was often a matter of conscious choice due to the fact that, having more time available, there was also more time to take the decision to “adopt ”. So, it was almost always a matter of conscious choice. Of course, the pandemic has also made everyone a little poorer, this too has created some problems, however, in our area, fortunately not in a significant way.
What would be advised if someone finds abandoned kittens or puppies in the street? Does this happen often?
If you find a wandering dog (puppy or adult), the procedure requires that you have to notify a public authority (therefore the: Vigili del Comune di Ritrovamento, Carabinieri or Corpo Forestale) who, in turn, contact the kennel affiliated with that particular municipality. It is not possible for a private citizen to call a kennel or a volunteer directly, it would be diverted to the above authorities.
If, on the other hand, you find a cat (kitten or adult) the first thing to do is to try to ask the houses nearby if the cat belonged to someone. The cat is a free spirit, it is often just taking a walk outside the house, however, it is common for our cats to be taken without making the necessary checks and brought to the cattery. Picking up a cat and leaving it in the cattery is equivalent to freeing one’s conscience but, in fact, it is a discharge-barrel, whoever performs an action must take responsibility for it. Often, we volunteers receive calls in the middle of the night or while we are at work, without realizing that each of us has a life and a family just like all people do in the world. The cattery is private, it takes up every minute of our free-time, we are generally available but there is a limit to everything. If, on the other hand, you find a cat that is injured or in difficulty, the first thing to do is to “help” in the true sense of the word and take it to a veterinary clinic. But, almost always, some people call around until they get to us so that we can guarantee to pay for the care, because this is the real issue, the important thing for them is not to pay. However, our resources, coming from our own pockets, are not infinite.
Is there a problem in the area with an overpopulation of stray cats? How important is it for pet owners to sterilize their animals (both male and female)?
Certainly, in the Alba Langhe and Roero area, feline stray cats are a rather significant problem. Sterilization is not a very widespread practice partly due to ignorance on the topic. Only then to call us to intervene on colonies of 20-30 cats…that’s when the situation is out of hand. If every municipality did its part, allocating an annual budget for sterilizations, we would have a better world. Municipalities should sterilize stray cats and owned cats, at least those of less well-off people. And, in any case, there should be a law which OBLIGATES cat owners to sterilize them and municipalities to sterilize stray cats. Unfortunately, however, cultural and institutional indifference is the master!
At the time of adoption, we have a document signed in which the adopter declares to undertake sterilizing the adopted cat. In case of adoption of a kitten of course: from 6 months upward, they come sterilized by us. Often, however, people face adoption in a superficial way, not respecting what they have signed at the time of adoption…but not always. Fortunately, there are many good people who have deep respect for our work and, above all, for the animals.
I repeat that sterilization is the only valid way to combat strays. In addition, there are a lot of positive aspects, in this regard.
What are the essential things the animal shelter needs people to donate to help support the care that you provide? (i.e. food donations, flea treatments, cash donations, etc.
Any kind of donation is welcome, from food, pesticides, cash donations, kennels, scratching posts, blankets.
If someone can’t adopt an animal, what else can they do?
If it’s not possible for you to adopt a dog or a cat, you can opt for our Adopt at a Distance program – with the payment of a symbolic amount that varies depending on the duration you can contribute to our cause. In exchange, a CERTIFICATE OF ADOPTION with a photo of the chosen animal is given. And, it is possible to visit the “adopted” animal during opening hours.
Please share any other information about Amici di Zampa, the volunteers, volunteering and how others can help
I would like to express that volunteering is a serious commitment. Those who decide to approach this world must be ready for many satisfactions, but also many defeats. The most disheartening aspect is often the management of people and the related problems related to animals. When you adopt, if you do it on a wave of enthusiasm and it all seems beautiful however, at the first difficulty very often you throw in the towel and immediately think about bringing the animal back to the kennel or cattery without realizing what this decision means and what it entails. Heart and psychological wounds are more devastating than physical ones. We are always available to try to solve the problem with advice and contacts with people more experienced than us but often there is a lack of willpower, and this is really disheartening.
I can wholeheartedly thank dedicated volunteers like Daniela and Paolo who, despite everything, have always been there and will always be there. It is impossible to imagine Amici di Zampa without them. As it is impossible to imagine Amici di Zampa without people like: Sara, Carla, Denise, Elena, Riccardo, Silvia, Lucia, whose contribution is fundamental … and again Elisabetta, Saretta, Silvietta, Diana, Anna, Francesco, Matteo, Fulvio, Rachele … and other people who, over the years have left for various reasons…some after several years of volunteering, but their contribution was equally important for the time they dedicated to the cause.
A volunteer, no matter how experienced, is never fully “trained”, you never stop learning and animals are incomparable teachers of life! I admit that it has not always been easy, as in any “group” it is difficult to reconcile different opinions and personalities, but the sharing of goals and therefore the love for animals means that we will NEVER give up!
How Can You Help?
Some ways to help Amici di Zampa and their cause to care for stray animals:
– 5 per thousand: cf 90036110048
– Donations to our current account IT 17 R 06085 22500 000001093104 (in the name of AMICI DI ZAMPA)
– Adopt at a distance
– Participation in our fundraising initiatives, for example lotteries, parties.
– Donation of food and medications
Contact Amici di Zampa, a dog and cat refuge in Alba:
Loving dogs and cats are waiting for you!
AMICI DI ZAMPA Onlus
Località Toppino, via Vivaro, 17, 12051 Alba (CN)
Dietro la Casa Circondariale
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