Rescuing a Dog in the Algarve

Written by:
Last updated on June 12, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

I don’t have pets of my own. If I could I would, because I’m absolutely mad on animals. The problem is I’ve chosen a nomadic lifestyle for myself, and travelling with a big slobbery mutt might be a little bit hard.

Sometimes not having a pet can be a bit distressing: especially when you meet an animal in need.

We were enjoying a relaxing holiday in the Algarve when a stray dog wandered into the gardens of the B&B. The owners tried to chase it off, but all week it came back. Their own dog was a bit useless, seeing the new pup as a playmate rather than a pest. The dog was so friendly and cute, but obviously the owners didn’t see it that way as they had a business to run.

People abandon pets a lot in the Algarve, and sometimes dump them near big properties owned by expats because they hope they’ll be softhearted enough to take the animal in. If the owners had adopted this dog, it’s likely that loads more would soon turn up. They didn’t have many options. They phoned round every animal sanctuary, checked every missing dog website, and finally made the tough decision to call the vet and have the dog put down.

Although we helped them to catch the dog, and chain it up so that it wouldn’t go begging for food, I knew I had to do something.

I sat down and phoned/emailed/poured my heart out to all the local sanctuaries. I even sent photos of my new pal (who I’d named Tyrion) in the hope that their hearts would melt like mine did. Finally, an angel named Jan from the Goldra Dog Sanctuary replied and said that she knew someone looking for a small dog to adopt. The clock was ticking, and time was of the essence, but eventually she said her husband would collect the dog from us the next day.

This was 20 minutes before the vet was due to come and put the pup to sleep.

I was over the moon! The B&B owners were happy, the vet was happy, and the little dog (who turned out to be a female called Nina) was definitely happy!

After that,I took her for a couple of nice long country walks and gave her a big meal. It was hard getting her in the car the next day (I had the scratch marks to prove it), and even harder saying goodbye. It’s all worth it to know that she could be happily en route to her new forever home, instead of crossing the Rainbow Bridge a little too early.

I know that there are hundreds of stray dogs hurting in the world and that we can’t save them all, but just a little bit of action made all the difference in the world to this dog. If we all do what we can, when we can, the world will be a much nicer place.

If you want to find out about the great work that Goldra do, or if you want to make a donation to help the abandoned dogs of the Algarge you can find them on Facebook here. 

There are other animal charities and organisations on the Algarve as well, of course. SOS Algarve Animals run a re-homing centre where they work with and help re-home 20-30 animals at a time.

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [Disclaimer Policy]
Written by

Spotted a mistake? Suggest a correction

There are 5 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. Incredible story! It always amazes me how many stray dogs there are on the Algarve. It’s nice to hear other people are concerned as well

  2. WE are scouting the Algarve as a retirement destination away from the U.S. We are definitely dog lovers and have volunteered with both the S.P.C.A. and the Humane Society. I would love to hear more about any shelters and organizations helping animals. Thanks for this!

    • I know Gouldra are always looking for volunteers, but I think it’s the same for shelters all over the Algarve. All of them always need more help so you will definitely be appreciated!

  3. Hi, came across your page.
    I am an animal lover my self. Has 11 dogs and 9 cats under my care. I am planning a vacation and Algarve makes the list.

    However, I need to ask a very important question. Would I be seeing a lot of stray dogs in Algarve? That always bring sadness in me and totally ruin my holiday. I have cut down many travelling destinations due to this fact. I need your honest opinion.
    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Christina,

      There are stray dogs in the Algarve. The article is a little out of date as the way the council here deals with them is different: they are no longer put down, but this does mean that there are more of them about.

      As to whether or not you will see them, it depends a lot on where you’re visiting and when you’re visiting. Stray dogs are much more common in the inland rural Algarve towns and they seem to be more common in the winter.


Leave a Comment