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A Word From Mike Gibb

Dear Guys–

Many of you will know Mike Gibb as the lyricist (and original inspiration) behind OUTLANDER: The Musical, and will have enjoyed his wonderful songs. A hard-working and compassionate man, he’s also one of the chief supports of Bianca, a lovely (and vital) charity for abandoned pets. I was very impressed, hearing about them, and so I’ve offered to put up here his description of Bianca and their work.

While on holiday in Portugal Mike Gibb (Outlander The Musical) was horrified by the many stray and abandoned dogs, most of whom displayed horrific signs of neglect, mistreatment and starvation, and shocked by the fact that there was no one to care for them except charities run by volunteers such as Bianca. And so on his return home he decided to set up Friends of Bianca a group established with the sole purpose of raising awareness of and funds for Bianca throughout the English speaking world. Every penny donated through Friends of Bianca will go directly to the charity in Portugal.
To explain, Bianca is a Portuguese charity that rescues, treats, cares for and then re-homes stray and abandoned dogs and cats. Many of the animals, which are left in the streets to fend for themselves or found tied or chained the fence of the Bianca compound, have suffered severely though neglect and abuse and, without Bianca, would starve to death or die of treatable diseases. Established in 2002 in Sesimbra, south of Lisbon, and run solely by volunteers, Bianca now takes 600 animals into its care. Every year. The shelter currently looks after 250 dogs and 30 cats and re-homes the animals both locally to responsible owners and through a network of animal associations in Northern Europe.
If you would like to support Bianca’s remarkable work you can do so by becoming a “God Parent” or simply through a donation.
About one third of the animals in Bianca’s care cannot be re-homed because of their age or ill health or simply because they are just too shy. Irrespective of where you live you can become a god parent to one of these animals. For (a minimum of) 2.50 Euros/ £2.50/ US$ 4.00 a month you can foster one of these dogs or cats, safe in the knowledge that your money will be used to buy food, pay veterinary bills and generally ensure that the animal concerned lives out the remainder of its days, loved and cared for. As a god parent you will receive a photograph of your new friend and your name will appear alongside the respective dog or cat on the website. To see the dogs available for fostering go to www.bianca.pt/english and click on “DOGS FOR FOSTERING” in the right hand column. Once you have chosen, contact Mike at info@hamepages.com.
Alternatively if you simply want to donate you can do so by sending money to info@hamepages.com through the Friends of Bianca Paypal account. If you are unsure of how to do that, just email Mike.
And if you have a moment to spare, check out this video on You Tube which shows how kindness, care and compassion can redress the worst excesses of the evil that humans can inflict on defenceless creatures.

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32 Responses »

  1. Huge thank you to Diana for helping me flag this up. Thanks to Bianca there are many happy endings – if you want to see Rene (from our poster) in her new home go to http://bianca.pt/english/index.php?view=article&catid=40%3Adogs-urgent-cases&id=2397%3Arene&option=com_content&Itemid=96

    • Mike/Diana:

      I plan to check into their policies, but perhaps you can tell me if they spay/neuter? As someone involved with the rescue, shelter and transport of unwanted animals, I believe this is a critical step. If they do, I will gladly donate.

      Loretta Remington

      • As somone else very involved in dog rescue – I also believe spay/neuter is a necrssary policy for all animal rescue/aide groups.

      • MaryJo

        Totally agree and fortunately so do Bianca

      • MaryJo

        Totally agree and fortunately so do Bianca who adopt a very responsible attitude to all aspects of the rescue, care and re-homing.

      • Loretta,

        Spaying and neutering of all animals before they are re-homed is a central policy of Bianca’s work. To quote from their web site “Bianca Association sensibilises the public over the serious problem of animal overpopulation and the importance of sterilising and castrating of animals.”
        If you check out their web site you’ll see that they take very responsible attitude towards all aspects of animal care and re-homing.
        If you need any further information just email me.

      • Hi Loretta

        Spaying and neutering is a central policy of Bianca’s work. To quote from their own web site “Bianca Association sensibilises the public over the serious problem of animal overpopulation and the importance of sterilising and castrating of animal”

        If you want any more information about Bianca or their work just email me at info@hamepages.com.

        Any donation would be greatly apprecaited.


        PS apologies if this message appears twice. Thought I had sent it this morning but apparently not!

      • Thanks for the clarification. When I initially responded, I hadn’t had the time to investigate the web-site. Their work sounds very valuable. Maybe someday-those of us involved in animal rescue will put ourselves ‘out of business’. I’d like to think so…

        All the best to you in all of your endeavors.

        Loretta Remington

    • I live most of the year on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Like in all developing countries, we are blessed or plagued with street animals who, were it not for the charity of people in the towns and villages, would starve.

      We live in a very small town which over the past 10 years has become a British retirement community. Some of the permanent residents — both Turkish and British — decided to start a winter feeding program (tourists and restaurants feed the animals in summer) and a neuter-and-return program.

      This group raises a very considerable sum of money annually by holding ‘bring and buy’ sales. They usually have at least two such events each year and last year raised 25,000 sterling pounds just through this venue. Plus what people contributed in the various collection boxes around town.

      In collaboration with a local vet, they have neutered and returned hundreds of dogs and cats to their native haunts (the streets of Kalkan!) where they live a pretty good life. But this has resulted in surrounding villagers dumping all their unwanted dogs, puppies and kittens on us. Their number has swelled since this program started.

      Nonetheless, this group is able to raise more money for the feeding and medical care of these animals than can be raised for needy human causes. Perhaps you can hold a similar event in your area to raise additional funds.

      • Thanks Carole.

        All suggestions about fund raising are greatly apprecaited.

        And keep up the good work. I’m sure in Turkey the problem si equally as bad

      • I know this thread is about BIANCA and the amazing work done by them, but I do feel I need to comment on the post above as I fear it is a little ill informed and misleading. Sorry. . .

        I have lived in Turkey for 18 years – 10 years in Kalkan and before that in Oludeniz and Istanbul and I am involved in the group that Carole has mentioned. Neutering of stray animals was started in Kalkan in 1994 by two resident business women, one Turkish and one English. The numbers neutered in those days were smaller because Kalkan’s human and animal populations were much smaller. Over the years many more people have seen the logic behind ‘neuter and return’ and have given their help. In the last 10 years in particular, Kalkan has grown enormously due to tourism. Where as before it was a small village surrounded by acres of olive groves it is now a sprawling town, most of the olive groves have been replaced by luxury villas and apartments and in the summer there are an estimated 250 restaurants and cafes in the area. Access to Kalkan has also become much easier with new roads having been built. Is it any wonder then that the stray animal population has also grown? Kapsa – the charity mentioned above, was set up in 2008 because it became evident that more work had to be done to stem the ever increasing number of street animals here, however, the author of the post above would have people believe that the increase in the number of animals here is due to the presence of Kapsa and not the other way round.
        It is a well documented fact that the taking and dumping of cats and dogs to other areas has been one method used all over Turkey for centuries for ridding villages of unwanted animals. Kalkan in this sense is no different from any other resort along the coast. But we now go out to surrounding areas offering a free neutering service and go into local schools with slide show presentations to teach the next generation about looking after animals and the need for neutering.
        We do now have a winter feedng programme because after being well fed throughout the summer by restaurants, tourists businesses etc at the end of the tourist season the street animals suddenly find themselves with almost nothing to eat. We have dozens of volunteer feeders who feed many cats and dogs every day. But these people are expected to tell us about any unneutered animals on in their area. When dogs are neutered they are also vaccinated, photographed, tagged and registered, even those from outlying areas. In this way we are able to keep a track on numbers and their movements. Feeders also have to provide us with details of the dogs they are feeding (tag no. name and/or photo) this ensures we are not giving several different people rations for the same dog and it also helps us to see to it that all street dogs in Kalkan are being fed.

        Just one last thing – yes our twice yearly coffee mornings with raffles and ‘bring &buy’ stalls (amongst many other things) are very profitable and have become popular events on Kalkan’s social calender for ex-pats and locals alike, but they are not quite as lucrative as Carole would have you believe. In the last year we raised a TOTAL of 46,000TL (approx £16,000) of which 24,034TL came from our coffee mornings (ie about £8,400)
        the rest of the money came from donations, sale of Kapsa promotional goods such as notebooks, fridge magnets, postcards and cuddly toys. We also received a grant from the UK charity Animals worldwide. They may be able to help BIANCA too as they support TNR programmes around te world

        Good luck BIANCA, and keep up the good work.

    • I usually donate to Tony La Russa’s (former mgr of Oakland A’s) ARF in San Francisco Bay Area. I got a dog there, years ago, and since I believe in cleaning up my own back yard first, that’s where I would donate. Tony also believes in the spaying and neutering of animals because of the explosion of abandoned or run away animals. His website is http://www.arf.net/ . So if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area (Walnut Creek), his org. is a good one to donate to as well. I am really glad Bianca is taking care of the dogs there. Perhaps someday, people will not buy dogs or cats they cannot take care of. My dogs are part of the family in my home.

    • Hello,

      I’m Peathy’s (ex-Rene) new Mummy. We decided to adopt her to give her an oportunity of a better life with love and care. We believed she suffered a lot. I ‘ve had her for about 2 months and she is a sweet beautiful little doggie. She came to me very skinny but today she looks like completely different. She still has dificulties with her sight, especially with her left eye. In the beginning I also had the help of my parents. They also love her very much.
      Still today, I wonder why her owner abandoned her. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for this reason I wouldn’t have the oportunity to adopt her. I’m very grateful to Ana Duarte and Anabela, from Bianca, the two persons directly involved in the adoption of my dear Peathy. But all of them, at Bianca, make a excelent work with the animals. They use their own resting time, money for the care and well being of so many animals.
      At home, she’ s my whitty shadow as she follows me everywhere I go. I believe Peathy is a happy doggie now.

      • Adriana,
        Many thanks for that. I am sure it’s stories like this that encourages Ana and Anabela to continue with their selfless work in the face of so much cruelty. If anyone would like to see the transformation in Rene/ Peathy from our poster photo until now go to the Bianca web site (www.bianca.pt/english) and click on “Urgent cases – Dogs”.

  2. Hi Diana,

    It’s wonderful you’re bringing this to light. Five years ago my husband and I were on a Greek island called Skopelos (happens to be the same one where they filmed Mamma Mia) when we saw a little spaniel wandering around looking very lost. She kept trying to attach herself to people and then looked bewildered when no one would welcome her. We found out later from a group of Americans who live on the island that the Greek farmers poisone all the stray dogs, and this little girl would not last long. Many of the residents had even lost their own dogs due to poisoning. That was all I had to hear. My vacation was over, and I spent the next 10 days trying to get the dog home to my mother in America (I was living in England for another year so I couldn’t bring her there). We ended up making friends with the people who ran a similar charity to Bianca called SCAN Skopelos. They helped me find a place for my dog, now named Lemoni, at the elementary school and run through all the paperwork needed to get her home. It was difficult because the island was remote, their was a a lot of paperwork on the Greek end of things, and it was expensive. I held a fundraiser at home and raised $1,400 for the charity. Lemoni came to American a month later and stayed with my mom and dad for another year. Lemoni is the best dog in the world. My husband and I love her to bits. If it hadn’t been for the charity we wouldn’t have been able to adopt her.

    I am definitely going to donated to Bianca! And check out http://www.scanskopelos.org

    • Sharon
      That’s a wonderful story – good on you.
      All too often I’ve returned from holiday with great intentions of doing something only to end up forgetting all about it a few days later.
      Fortunately this time I did get going and I’m fortunate to be working with the amazing selfless volunteers at Bianca.
      Have had a quick look at the Scanskopelos web site – looks great – and will go back to it later.
      Any donation you can make to help Bianca will be greatly apprecaited.

      • Hi Mike,

        I totally understand this. I too have a hard time vacationing in countries where animals are treated cruelly or children are begging in the streets. I also support SOS Children’s Charity for this reason. I just can’t turn a blind eye to suffering, especially when I’m meant to relax and have fun. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I lived in England for six years (my husband is British) and I just loved how the Brits took care of their animals. I adopted two cats from the RSPCA (who moved back to the US with us) and was just impressed with their organization.

        Incidentally, the word got round very quickly that we had taken the dog in and planned to adopt her. I can’t tell you how many Brits came up to us with tears in their eyes thanking us. So many said they would have taken her back to Britain, but it was so difficult with the quarantine.


  3. Not only is this a problem in other countries but right here in the US, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see a dog or several cats wandering my city, especially the downtown area. Spay and neutering animals is easy, but many cannot afford it or just don’t think its necessary. My son a few years back rescued what I call the “coolest cat in the world”, he lost his front leg to a infected beebe shot, he was left for dead but was found and taken to a local vet and saved. In my area there are many vets that will take abandoned animals without a question asked. Sadly many of these animals that are left at shelters and vets are not adopted and must be put down. But many find homes and that is a great success. It saddens me to know that so many animals are treated so badly and discarded like trash, its also worth noting that many cultures do not see dogs and cats as anything special, that too is sad. This is a worthy cause and I hope that you have continued success Mike.
    PS: Thanks for Outlander The Musical…its terrific!

    • Lauren,

      I’m afraid that animal cruelty is worldwide. What upset me most about Portugal (and no doubt many other European countries) is the fact that the authorities seem totake no action whatsoever even in obvious cases of msitreatment and it is let to the volunteer groups like Bianca to rescue these poor creatures.

      • And I am sure Portugal is not the only country that takes no actions whatsoever. The blessing comes from the simple deed…and the fact that so many people through out the world and here in the US are willing to extend themselves to help our fury friends is a wonderful thing! :)

  4. I am lucky enough to have been rescued by two dogs. I would highly recommend it. Thank you for bringing this terrible atrocity to my attention. I will be sending a donation.

    • Fiona,

      Many thanks for your interest. Through DAWGS (A Scottish cahrity I helped found back in the early 90′s) I’ve had several rescued dogs. Until I got involved with Bianca, however, I never realised how fortunate we were in this country. Bianca contend with more examples of neglect and mistreatment in a week than we did in a normal year.
      Any donation would be greatly appreciated.


    Rama recently arrived at the Bianca shelter in a terrible condition with an enormous hernia in her stomach (and with sadness and pain in her eyes). She needs immediate and expensive veterinary treatment and Bianca have launched a special appeal.
    If anyone would like to donate to Bianca this would be a very good time. You can see Rama by clicking on the link below.


  6. I appreciate the work that rescue operations do all over the world. My German Shepherd, Erla, is a rescue. She has some issues, but is the best dog ever!! I have worked with her to become a certified therapy dog. She is a great companion and has the best temperament!! She loves people of all ages, is gentle with children, and friendly to all. I have a hard time believing someone just threw her away.

    It is heart breaking to think how many dear animals are walking the planet without homes to love and care for them. My town has a serious problem with stray cats and diseases. Most of these animals are euthanized because there is no group to fight to have them sterilized and cared for properly. A local rescue does frequent our animal shelter (pound) to look for adoption prospects, but they are nearly militant in their approach and turn lots of people off because of their attitudes.

    I hate to see animals suffer, but I feel the scope of my abilities to help is somewhat limited. My prayers and best wishes for success in this venture are yours, for sure!! Blessed be. ;-)

  7. Thank you, Diana, for supporting Mike and his work for Bianca! I contributed a little already and will contribute more–bless him and the volunteers at Bianca for making pets’ lives better in Scotland and Portugal! Mike and I have a mutual friend and I was so very fortunate to meet him on my last trip to Scotland–as the founder and former President of a Golden Retriever rescue in the US and now volunteer foster home for a Doberman Pinscher rescue in the US, I have a great deal of respect for those who spend their sweat, blood, tears and money to help animals in need! Kevin Walsh, who was also kind enough to stop by Edinburgh to meet with me on his way home from Glasgow is also a big animal lover! Must be something about Outlander that attracts people with kind hearts!

    When the Outlander musical debuts on Broadway I’d be happy to volunteer to work on a charity after-the-opening-night party with all proceeds to go to Bianca, DAWGS and other pet rescues of your choosing!! :)

  8. Hi Kathy,
    Yes there must be something about the Outlander fraternity and animals. You were the very first person to donate to Bianca (thanks again for that) while an Outlander CD buyer who has become a very good friend is now running the “Canada Branch” of Friends of Bianca. Heather McBride has done an amazing job in selling our Bianca bags as well as making and selling aerobic wear and “Bernie’s Bianca Biscuits”. I’m proud of you lass!
    And by the way if anyone wants one of our “they are not disposable” bags, they can order one by sending $10 (inclusive of air mail shipping) to info@hamepages.com through Paypal.

  9. Kindle version not yet available in Canada… gasp…. faint…

    Any ideas when The Scottish Prisoner will be available for Canadians??

  10. I live in Angola. It was a Portuguese colony until 1975. The amount of mistreated, neglected and abandoned animals here is heartbreaking. I am here as a missionary. There are times when I see an animal that I just say a prayer that it be put out of it’s misery. My work focuses on people but I am not unfeeling towards the animals’plight. A campaign for neutering/spaying in a country like this would be so valuable. There are days when I wish Bob Barker were here. But I have on many occasions come to an animals rescue when seeing someone mistreat it. I actually use a Bible verse with them that says,  “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.” I literally try to put the fear of God into them.

  11. Wonderful endeavor. Keep up the great work. And, I hope there is a special hell for people who neglect and/or abuse animals.

  12. Bianca animals and team wish all Merry Christmas and a sucessfull 2012. God bless all for the support!

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