ARA rescues and re-homes on average 30 animals a month which costs 30.000 euros every month to run the shelter which is run by the goodwill of volunteers. If you break that cost down, it costs up to 300 euros to vet check, sterilise, microchip and vaccinate every animal that they rescue and that is before medication, food and the shelter’s running costs. ARA accommodates up to 100 dogs and they have a cattery prepared to receive up to 50 cats.

Founder of ARA, Sid Richardson explained “The starting point for WOOFF was that we do not get any government funding for the shelter and our working staff are not paid any remunerations, therefore, we rely heavily on contributions, and WOOFF is a big contributor, probably less than half of our income and is run by local volunteers.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: WOOFF;

WOOFF Charity Shops

The first WOOFF shop opened three years ago and is located on Rua Cristovão Pires Norte, Edificio Sol in Almancil (opposite Health Secrets Clinic) with the second that opened in 2022 in Avenida Andrade Sousa, Urbanização Boas Entradas, Edificio Atlantico Plaza, Lote 73, Loja C, São Sebastião in Loulé (opposite Lidl).

You can support ARA by purchasing fantastic quality items at either of the WOOFF charity shops as all the profits go directly to the shelter. If you have not had the chance to visit WOOFF, I urge you to do so because both shops are both so unique, with different items in each shop, you never know what treasure you are going to find and best of all it is going to such a worthwhile cause. They have high-quality second-hand fashion which includes women, men and children’s clothes and shoes & accessories. Each store also has a large range of furniture, decorative items, books, sports equipment and even a lovely children’s toy section too.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: WOOFF;

Louisa Holland, who manages and volunteers at both “WOOFF” charity shops, told The Portugal News that “I currently have around 50 volunteers, but that does not mean that everyone is available all of the time, in which she gave the example of Christmas, where “I was forced to make the decision to close the Loulé shop because I didn’t have a consistent number of people to run both shifts morning and afternoon.” Most of our volunteers are residents and do at least one day a week, depending on their availability, with some doing two or three shifts and they may fill in also.”

Volunteering at WOOFF!

Louisa affirmed that “It is a massive help to us if anyone can come regularly once a week, even if it is just for three hours one morning or afternoon a week as unlike “normal” shops, there is so much sorting, washing, ironing & pricing to do behind the scenes before an item gets on the rail to sell.

We are also in need of volunteers or ideally a “Man with a large van” who can offer their time to do collections of furniture items. We often get calls from people wanting to donate to the charity shops but they can’t bring it in themselves and then we have lost out because we do not have the resources to transport it, so that would be incredibly helpful to us.”

Sid went on to highlight the social aspect of volunteering, in that, “All the volunteers have a platform, where they are messaging all the time and have become good friends and will meet outside of volunteering. I recently went into one of the shops and one of the ladies told me that volunteering has changed her life.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: WOOFF;

Louisa added: “We have many different age ranges of volunteers, all with different personal circumstances. The Wooff team allows the volunteers to meet other people, create friendships, and occupy their time. It has given some of our ladies a real focus and in turn helps their mental health knowing they have a purpose and above all helping the animals.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: WOOFF;

Additionally, if you would like to help ARA, please do consider donating your good quality items to WOOFF, which must be fit for resale. There are other ways you can support the charity, which include monetary donations, dog and cat dry and wet food, beds for dogs and cats, food bowls (stainless steel), collars, leads and pads, blankets, cat litter and of course, if you would like to be involved in volunteering at the shelter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For more information about WOOFF visit @Wooffcharity on Facebook. For donations of furniture please email photos to or WhatsApp message Louisa on +351 917 558 121.

Similarly, to contact the Almancil shop, please call +351 289 356 355 and for Loulé please call +351 289 416 061. Both shops are open Monday to Friday from 10am until 3pm and on Saturday’s from 10am to 1pm.

Donations of clothes or soft furnishings can be made during opening hours. (Please do not leave items outside the doors when the shops are closed).

For more information on ARA, please visit or @animalrescuealgarve on Facebook. To get in touch, please call Email: or telephone +351 289 462 384 or +351 910 476 880/+351 910 476 885.


Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.

Cristina da Costa Brookes