koningen house
koningen

Meet PAWS new main homing partner in Holland

paw On Friday 31st January 2014 the PAWS transport van arrived at Dierenopvang Koningen to unload the first full cargo of 16 dogs being taken in by the shelter. PAWS had developed a good working relationsship with them over the previous two and a half years, as one of several organisations in the Netherlands to home some of our dogs. But when the de Reddingsboei shelter was forced to close (after 40 successful years) we had no main reception centre. Dierenopvang Koningen immediately volunteered to step in and take over the lead role.

And already it is proving a fruitful relationship. The owner and manager of the shelter Astrid Koningen adopted one those dogs herself – little Veccio, our oldest ever PAWS dog! (see the full story here). Astrid’s home, where she erected the shelter in the grounds behind it, lies in Balkbrug, 30 kilometers east of Zwolle. It formally opened its doors for business on 1st February 2009, becoming very quickly established to the point where they now home 500 dogs and 200-300 cats every year.

astrid koningen

paw Astrid had had an interesting journey before opening day. She had worked for years as a hospital medical assistant, but became increasingly conscious of the itch to work full time with her first love, which had always been animals. “So I left my hospital job to work for three years at a shelter, and at the same time enrolled to study and get the proper qualification to open and run my own refuge.”

In 2004, she opened a Cattery at Ommen, 11 kilometers from where she now lives and works in Balkbrug. There she not only took in strays and rescue cats and found them homes, she accepted cats on behalf of the Animal Protection Department Vechtdal, all of which needed caretaking or fostering for various reasons.

But her activities were not solely confined to cats. “I also arranged and drove the transport of animals in distress, such as birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, marters, hedgehogs, turtles and other animals and made sure they got into the proper care they needed until June 2009 when I concentrated fully on the new Balkbrug shelter.”

She had bought the property because it was large and secluded, an ideal location for a shelter taking in dogs. It is not only her home, but also contains commercial boarding kennels as well as the shelter area at the back which houses both cats and dogs.

koningen logo
koningen cats

paw The shelter is run by a few staff and large group of dedicated volunteers. It is a permanently busy place, as witnessed by the daily activities log (for every single day of the year) which is available on their website. A large number of entries start with almost the same words: “Today was a very busy day in the shelter with lots of phone, email and of course our animals that all needed caring for again.” As well as taking dogs from PAWS in Spain they also receive them from Turkey, Malta, Hungary and Romania.

There is a myth that often many among the general public believe that sometimes shelters are only interested in taking in younger, healthy animals who are sociable and aesthetically pleasing – because they will be much easier to re-home. In Holland the contrary attitude is often the case. Dutch shelters do not see themselves as substitute pet shops catering to the “fluffy puppy” syndrome. Their concern is to care for and re-home animals who have suffered genuine hardship, cruelty or neglect.

Astrid’s policy has always been exactly that. “We take in all kinds, many of them elderly, no problem at all. We always find new owners for them, they don’t need much, they are gratefull and lovely and can be very good companions! Even dogs or cats with handicaps are welcome, they need homes as well.”

But perhaps Dierenopvang Koningen’s greatest strength is the breadth and depth of the shelter’s support in the local community and far beyond. They participated in a Charity Cycle Ride last July where the shelter lay along the route. The bulk of the 1,700 participants stopped to take refreshments and to have a look round the various kennels where a group of new kittens were the undoubted star turn.

You can see a few photos of that memorable day below:

open day
koningen kitten
open day 3
open day 8

astrid 3

Astrid (centre) and staff members near the end of a busy but rewarding day.

paw PAWS and Dierenopvang Koningen share the same goal and employ the same approach: to care for and to place in good homes as many abandoned, abused and neglected animals as we possibly can.  PAWS is grateful for their support, and looks forward to a long and fruitful partnership.