Ayin Ruka 1.0: Images and reports

Our mission at the Ayin Ruka animal shelter in the small Chilean town of Los Álamos was the start of a multi-year aid project and lasted from November 23 to December 10, 2023.

Unfortunately, the planned daily ten-minute live broadcast on Instagram could not take place. This was due to technical and organizational reasons and can always happen with such projects, especially when you are on site for the first time.

Click here for the reports in Chilean and German media.

Most important results

There was an official meeting at Los Álamos town hall at the start and end of the mission. Both meetings focused on the city’s plans to build a municipal animal shelter – the first ever in the Bíobio region – where the animals from Ayin Ruka would later live. The mayor and the managers present emphasized that this animal shelter should be species-appropriate and conform to animal welfare standards, and wanted to know whether and how FinnDomingo could help with this. Several possibilities for cooperation were discussed (more details in the final report, which will be published at the end of February 2024).

Back, from left: Pablo Vegas, Paola Antinao, Paola Fernández and Bárbara Soto (mayor, animal welfare officer, social worker and vet from Los Álamos)
Front, from left: Dr. Ellen Stähr (FinnDomingo) and Otilia Munizaga (Corporación Ayin Ruka)
The operation was supported by Bárbara Soto, the official veterinarian of the city of Los Álamos. Special training food, brought from Germany, proved to be helpful in calming the dogs when checking their microchips. The clinical examinations and behavioral observations initially required a few days of trust building, i.e. sitting down and letting them explore.
Most dogs are trusting, some are cautious at first, some are also very fearful. After a few days of contact, however, the ice is broken. All animals are neutered after their rescue and are also regularly dewormed. Unfortunately, it has been far too long since most of them were last vaccinated, as there is often barely enough money for food.
At the end of the German-Chilean mission, the mayor promised that the city would take care of this, on behalf of the dogs safety. It remains to be seen whether these words will be followed by action.
The grounds of Ayin Ruka cover aprox. 5 acres, of which about half is fenced and divided into a total of 14 plots of different sizes and structures. The dogs are kept there in compatible groups.
The fences are in a sorry state, so the animals make their way under or over them from time to time. There is a lot of unused land that could be used for walks, leash training, etc., but these exercises are hardly known in Chile. Besides, Otilia would have neither time, energy nor knowledge of how to practice these exercises with the dogs. In any case: the area offers a lot of potential for practical seminars in the future…
The Animals, as well as Otilia, suffer injuries regularly due to the current condition of the facility. As a result, Otilia often provides layman veterinarian services. In Chile you can buy everything at the pharmacy, the documentation is irregular or non-existent. As for food, it is always advisable to give good feed, but it is expensive, as are medications.
Otilia’s house is located on the shelter grounds, and serves as both a feeding kitchen and an infirmary for the animals. Otilia has been taking care of her protégés 24 hours a day for 14 years. She pays for everything with her small pension and the private donations which she tirelessly collects. At the beginning, she also paid the rent for the land until the municipality took over. However, the region is economically poor and the municipality faces challenges with this expense. Fortunately, the Chilean laws provide the basis for this level of care.
The long-term goal of the network, which is coordinated by FinnDomingo, is to establish an umbrella organization along the lines of the German Animal Welfare Association. Ayin Ruka [Mapudungún for “House of Kindness”] is also a member of the network and urgently needs active volunteer support at the animal shelter. FinnDomingo has therefore advertised a position for its 2024 volunteer service.