Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every week for Huddersfield Hub.

With the relaxing of many Covid restrictions in the Andalusian region there is a breath of fresh air here which allows bars, restaurants and clubs to ‘go for it.’

Face coverings and hand sanitising are still recommended in crowded areas and shops, however.

A new Animal Welfare Law here in Spain is set to reduce the number of animals being abandoned.

Included in the law is that pet shops will no longer be able to display or sell any animals, and amongst other restrictions, zoos will not be permitted to buy exotic animals from other countries.

One such organisation – of dozens on the Costa del Sol – which will welcome the law is ‘ACE’ – Animal Care Espana, a refuge set up and founded in 1999 by a devoted animal lover Fabienne Paques who took over what was originally a ‘killing station’ where abandoned dogs were taken to be put down.

It is a refuge hidden away from the roadside that Elaine and I have passed hundreds of times. I called in this week to find out how it operates and follow up an amazing event to raise funds for this busy dog refuge centre by a local show bar – Legends.

Give a dog a home

Run daily, mainly by dedicated volunteers, ACE currently has 150 kennels housing 350 animals, and all dogs plus some cats are given loving care. They also manage another 150 dogs out in foster care.

Not funded by government, the refuge depends upon donations, potential dog owners and charity events hoping to raise the staggering €35,000 needed per month for the unit to survive, which includes 6,000kg of food!

Those wishing to take a dog will go through a rigorous process before a fully cared for animal with passport and overseen by on-site vet, is handed over for a cost of €250 per dog.

During the pandemic lockdown, lots of people purchased dogs in order to legally allow them to go for ‘doggy exercise walks’ but abandoned them when the restriction lifted. This left refuges like ACE inundated with dogs, some just left at the gate or thrown over a fence.

Since opening ACE has managed to house over 23,000, mainly to overseas owners.

ACE does some great work

Legends Show Bar in La Cala, well known for its generous raising of funds for many needy groups, was able to accumulate monies for ACE, with proceeds form an auction and raffle conducted by volunteer Mark Ridler. Cash was added by the bar from ticket sales and there were dozens of brilliant prizes generously donated by local businesses.

An incredible €3,000 was given by the former owner of Pimlico Plumbers – London – Charlie Mullins, making a total of €5,641.

All artists, who superbly entertained a packed house, gave up their time freely. Legends owners Paul and Andrea have already pledged €5,000 of their own money towards their next big fund raiser for a young girl, Lara, who needs a life-saving operation.

There is such generosity here on the Costas.

READ MORE: If you’ve missed any of Brian’s weekly blogs you’ll find them HERE