What is it
A sanctuary is a place where the animals can live the rest of their life in freedom and away from any form of exploitation. In some cases (depending on the size and location of the sanctuary) they serve as a temporary refugee for some animals until a responsible family adopts them.
All the activities that are carried out in the sanctuary are for the animals and they do not pursue any benefit for the humans. The relationship between humans and non-human animals is based on respect and equality. Therefore every sanctuary seeks to provide each inhabitant a high quality of life, this at time limits the number of animals that can be taken in. This is particularly important to ensure that the minimum requirements of the inhabitants are met.
In sanctuaries, animals are not confined to cages or locked up in kennels (like it happens in shelters), they are free to roam around the land. At times the animals are separated according to their species however this is to ensure their own safety and to meet the requirements of each species.
It is important to note that animal sanctuaries are not just dedicated to rescuing and caring for animals, they also play an important role in raising awareness and educating society about animal exploitation. The moment when human animals learn to respect the rest of the animal species, exploitation will cease to exist.
Contrary to zoos, sanctuaries encourage the interaction between human animals and non-human animals by promoting respect and equality between the species. Many sanctuaries do not permit the public to visit, while others allow planned visits to the sanctuary so that visitors do not disturb the routine and peace of the inhabitants. Visitors are not charged an entry fee however they can offer donations, which will continue to fund projects and benefit the animals. Donations do not profit the people that run the sanctuaries.
In sanctuaries, like El Hogar Animal Sanctuary, veganism is promoted as a way of life. To be vegan is to respect all living beings and therefore foods consumed should be vegan (no animal products or derivatives), animals should not be used for any purpose such as experimentation, fashion or for fun.
In conclusion, the aim of the sanctuaries is to change the way humans think about non-humans and how they should be treated with respect and equality.
History of our sanctuary
El Hogar Animal Sanctuary began its journey in 2004, by then with the name of El Hogar de Luci, focusing its activity on rescuing the most disadvantaged dogs and cats who were waiting to die in different kennels in Spain. Subsequently, they used to be relocated to foster homes or canine residences until they were adopted.
In 2007, El Hogar de Luci was legally constituted, proceeding to its registration in the National Registry of Associations in Madrid. That’s when we started a period of special incidence in awareness actions on issues such as animal abandonment and abuse or sterilisation, continuing working in parallel on rescuing animals and managing adoptions.
From that moment, an evolution towards an antispeciesist thought took place and the association began to help animals of any kind.
This is how El Hogar opened its doors also to ducks, pigs, chickens, sheep and other animals considered as “food animals” and exploited by humans. These animals, who had no other place, had at last an animal shelter that offered them the possibility of having a decent life.
Despite the shortage of resources and the lack of funding sources, the members of the association decided to undertake a novel and pioneering project in our country, driven by their eagerness and determination to offer a future of hope to so many animals oppressed, condemned and forgotten by the society.
At that point, we became aware of the need to provide a suitable shelter for the accommodation of all animals, where herbivores and dogs had large areas to live according to their nature, where cats could enjoy comfortable houses adapted to be that home they had never had, where ducks and other birds had extensive parks with shelters and ponds; where, ultimately, each individual could fully develop their life in a safe environment and according to their physical and psychological needs.
Thus, we started to search, throughout the country, for an appropriate land for this purpose and adjusted to the limited budget of the association. Finally, that place was located in Madrid and there the construction of a true Home began.
That was the beginning of a new and momentous period in the life of the association, which would also represent a remarkable milestone in the history of the Animal Rights Movement in our country.
The first multispecies animal sanctuary in Spain was born.
After 5 years rescuing and taking care of more than 300 animals of different species, victims of exploitation and human indifference, the project was growing day by day until El Hogar joined, in 2013, the ProVegan association, thereby creating El Hogar ProVegan, as it has been known until now.
At the present time, after ProVegan withdrew its support to the project, we must abandon the lands we currently live in. We are El Hogar Animal Sanctuary again. We have just started a crowdfunding campaign to be able to offer animals a definitive home. With a little bit of help from everyone, we’re going to make it. Are you in?
Meet the new sanctuary’s facilities:
Feeling that we leave behind the experience of being unfairly treated and sinking into sadness without understanding how an association that was always so honest, hardworking and efficient could be knocked down by such cruel and unethical people.
Feeling that we are no longer victims.
Feeling that rescued animals will improve their situation, as this change will only affect them for the best. Because, together, the activists of El Hogar found a land where to heal wounds; not our wounds –since we managed to find our own path of recovery, we no longer feel them and they have turned into wisdom, strength and desires–, but the wounds of abandoned, exploited and mistreated animals.
Feeling, when we saw those green meadows so full of life, that the inhabitants of the sanctuary were going to be immensely happy, wrapped in that unspoilt forest.
Why a land in Catalonia?
Because here we were always welcomed very well, by the people, the authorities, the activists, and other associations that were already here. Because in this place we also met almost all the team that today is part of our big family; some of our volunteers came to live in Catalonia from other parts of Spain and even from other countries. How were we going to leave? This is now our home; our people are here.
We chose the region of Osona, which borders the province of Girona, because of its meadows full of clovers, grass and flowers from thousands of different species; the wild strawberry and the thyme; the rich oak leaf and the holm oak acorns; the plants that heal and the mallow that drives granny sheep crazy.
In this region we found a rural property in L’Esquirol, a little, rebellious village, with people who love countryside and natural life, with great cultural dualities in which farmers coexist with vegetarian horticulturists who bio-build country houses with recycled materials and a low environmental impact.
‘There is water here, there is life’, we thought.
Among many possibilities, the land we chose was one of the most modest properties: a small village house on the top of the mountain with a difficult access. But we felt something. Looking at the pictures, we thought it was the right place. A country house similar to Heidi’s house: far away from civilisation, and with the mountain hugging its meadows. The best shelter for the rescued animals is the natural fences that trees and mountains define; among them, animals will be able to really live in peace, without being seen or disturbed.
We were worried that it would require a lot of work: building, fixing, fencing…, but in our hearts ideas and possibilities were already flowing. Small old corners, a terrace overlooking the civilisation –far away–, vines everywhere, a natural pond, the forest of the elves, the silence, the tree of desires, vegetable tunnels… We felt many things.
When we discovered that it was a protected area and considered a wildlife refuge, we immediately thought about the safety of Kat, the wild boar, and of Ruth and Fantasía, the deer, and, of course, in how easy it would be for us in the future to be able to rescue many wild animals, victims of hunting.
Then, in each one of the visits we made during some months, to check the weather and the vegetation at different times, we felt again and again that it was the place, that this would be our definitive home.