Helping German dog and cat owners get into the holiday spirit at Tiertafel

IFAW's Jens Oelgardt helps distribute biscuts at Tiertafel in Berlin.It has by now become a well-established tradition that shortly before Christmas the International Fund for Animal Welfare staff from the German office help at a special pre-Christmas event for the pets and patrons of the “Tiertafel” – the Animal soup kitchen in Germany.

Both, pets and owners were cheerfully welcomed and got presents handed out by the team wearing the red IFAW jackets which matched perfectly with the red Santa hats we all wore for this occasion. 

During the last few weeks the registered Tiertafel customers noted their Christmas wishes for their little animal friends on letters which they handed in at the local Tiertafel offices.

As always they hoped that nice people would have donated those items which were wished so much. Often owners of pets that have passed away donate their items to Tiertafel in order to give a bit of the support back and thereby to support other impoverished people and their pets. But sometimes just generous citizens see the poverty and need – particularly during the winter months – and donate blankets, coats and cushions for cats and dogs.

Sorted by initials and nicely decorated by the committed Tiertafel volunteers, the presents were waiting for the excited pet owners, who formed a long queue, waiting patiently for their turn to receive their present and a feed ration for the holidays.

Thus our Finance Officer Jens Oelgardt was very busy, tirelessly handing out juice, biscuits and cakes to the pet owners, listening to concerns and entertaining the crowd.

While in a separate area a large number of new clients of Tiertafel were registered, pet food was handed out at a different table so that the most urgent requirements will be satisfied during the coming weeks.

At a third table, myself and Communication Officer Andreas Dinkelmeyer were in the meantime busy providing their guests with a cheerful welcome, finding their names on the seemingly endless wish lists, finding the presents and handing them over. The joy of the recipients was a reward in itself – even if occasionally a small poodle received a basket originally bought for a German Shepherd. The Tafel customers were happy and incredibly grateful.

Winter coats, food bowls, toys, reflector collars and many more items could be found on the wish lists. But the most touching wish was just “enough food to last me over the Christmas holidays”. We were able to help all the animals and their owners. 

After a long, busy afternoon many people returned home happy – three of them dressed in red jackets, wearing red Santa hats.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters