“Effetto Palla”, when rebirth defeats suffering
In Oristano, in Sardinia, a clinic helps abandoned or stray animals, victims of traumas, abuses and mistreatments. A mosaic of solidarity extending from Sardinia to all the other Italian regions thanks to the non-profit organization “Effetto Palla”. Monica Pais, the veterinarian animating the project, tells us about herself through incredible stories of life and hope.

Bang! A shot, a bullet. A white-haired little dog gets struck. She loses her sight. Crash! A car speeds and runs over a dog. It’s a hit and run. Both dog’s breasts are broken. Brr! The freezing wind, like a knife, strikes an abandoned quadruped. It shakes. It’s hungry and suffers from an infectious disease. Zac! An arrow, cast by unknown people, wounds a puppy, spearing it from side to side.

These are the true stories of Rosa, Tiziano, Tremolino and Freccia, animals who have experienced neglect, violence or abandonment. On the edge of the abyss, when pain prevailed on everything, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel and they were saved. Their superheroes, armed with love, are the vets of the Clinica Duemari and the volunteers of “Effetto Palla”, a non-profit organization born in March 2016 with the objective of helping and donating a new existence to animals who don’t belong to anybody. The patchwork of tales, where “rebirth” is the key word, starts with the one of a crossbred pit bull.

(Images from the “Effetto Palla” 2019 calendar. From the left: Rosa drawn by Daniele Brolli and Tiziano drawn by Andrea Antinori)

But let’s go back to over two years ago (January 2016), when the dog is found in the Oristano countryside, in Sardinia. The young animal is rescued in desperate conditions: her head is deformed due to a nylon rope tight around her neck, which had caused her pain for months, who knows how many. A torture that can lead to the gradual decapitation of a puppy. Luckily in the area there is the Veterinary Clinic Duemari, which, besides taking care of its customers’ pets, rescues and houses stray and wounded animals. The clinic, in the person of doctor Monica Pais, succeeded in saving the dog carrying out a delicate surgical operation. She has now healed and her saviours call her Palla, kindly referencing to her deformation. “The names we give the animals we care for – Monica said to us – are onomatopoeic or linked to the type of trauma they have suffered”.

(More images from the calendar. From the left: Tremolino drawn by Chiara Rapaccini and Bianca drawn by Mariella Paderni)

Although Palla is just one of the many stray dogs the clinic has rescued, the non-profit organization “Effetto Palla” was named after her. How did that happen? The veterinarian decided to publish on Facebook a few images of the crossbred pit bull and tell her story on the clinic’s Facebook page. The post became viral and in the course of a single night the number of likes increased from 26.000 to 186.000. The ordeal of the poor dog struck a chord in the hearts of the users of the internet portal. “Palla’s pictures caused a wave of sensitivity. We received endless messages of support – continues the veterinarian – and many offered donations to the clinic. But being an Ltd organization, we were not in the position to accept money. It was a shame to waste an opportunity of gaining resources and financial support, and we therefore decided to institute ‘Effetto Palla’, an organization sponsoring specialized care usually not otherwise available to stray or abandoned animals. We received food supplies, kennels and all sorts of donations from all over the world, from Brazil to Australia”. The organization is obviously dedicated to the dog who inspired its creation.

(Monica Pais e Palla)

The Oristano clinic welcomes about 200 animals a year necessitating hospital care, also thanks to synergies with other local organizations supporting the cause, which, when notified, rescue the stray dogs and transport them to the clinic. But Monica’s (and the other specialists’) job doesn’t end here. Once the animals have been brought back to health, she publishes their stories on Facebook: “The clinic’s page – explains Monica – plays a fundamental role: it allows our “patients” to become known on the social media, and this makes it more likely for them to get adopted. At the moment, our website is a sort of magazine narrating all the (mis)adventures of our animals and, after Palla, others have become famous on the internet and on the social media. The on-line publication is therefore crucial for their future perspectives: we nurse them and prevent that they end up in a dog shelter, but the brightness of their future depends on their new owners”.

To this regard, “Effetto Palla” finds the most suitable accommodation for the animals rescued by the clinic, shipping them all over Italy with the help of a network of volunteers. A precise process is in place to guarantee – in absolute transparency – that the dogs are offered the best possible conditions in their 2.0 life. “Once their stories have been published on Facebook, – continues Monica – we receive messages of people willing to adopt them. We ask them to fill in a pre-adoption form which allows us to gather all the information we need about the animals’ new potential families. Our collaborators visit them in person to get to know them and to assess if their houses are suitable for animals”. Everything being satisfactory, cats and dogs – once healed, usually after about a month of nursing – leave the clinic to move in with their adoptive families. Their journey from Sardinia to the other Italian regions is always by sea and in the company of one of our volunteers (“We call them wingmen”, says Monica), so that our four-legged friends don’t have to travel in the hold of a plane. “We keep in touch with them – says the veterinarian – and after two months, we make sure the animal is fine and doing well. Only then the registration of the microchip is transferred”.

The clinic, as a wild animals rescue centre, doesn’t receive only cats and dogs, but a wide variety of animals, from sea turtles to swallows. Monica even helps the latter testing their flight ability in her sitting room. And talking about local fauna, a fox named “Rosa Fumetta” has also become an internet celebrity. She was found in critical conditions: caught in a fire in a wood, she had burns all over her body. At first admitted to the clinic and subsequently personally nursed by doctor Pais, she survived, but she was so crippled that she couldn’t possibly be set free. The story of this fox was one of great resonance: “Rosa Fumetta – the veterinarian said to us – has become the ambassadress of all the wild animals killed by fires in Sardinia”. The fox is now Palla’s friend and playmate (see below a video of one of their meetings).

The non-profit organization also runs many projects outside the clinic. “Effetto Palla” must be a sustainable project. So, besides a range of gadgets sold to support it, a special calendar is printed every year. Until last year it was a home-made publication, but it has evolved for 2019. The chance meeting between Monica Pais and Chiara Belliti, publishing expert, has generated a new project. Belliti has gathered and obtained the support of some of the biggest Italian illustrators to tell the stories of the animals nursed in the clinic through their drawings. Each month features a different author, who has given colour and shape to the adventures of one of the stray or injured animals in their own personal style.

(More images from the calendar. From the left: Spisi drawn by Cristiana Valentini and Vasco by Francesca Bazzurro)

On the cover of the calendar is an image by Giuseppe Palumbo representing Palla happily jumping into the central circle of the Third Paradise, the sign-symbol conceived by Michelangelo Pistoletto. At its side is a quote from the latest book by the artist from Biella, “Ominiteism and Demopraxy”: “To advance into an evolved society, it is first of all necessary to establish a relationship of total respect between us and the animals”.

Thanks to Chiara Belliti’s contacts and sensibility – adds Monica Pais – we have produced a beautiful calendar. Each illustrator has created an image telling the story of one of our patients. The authors have understood their meanings. They are not simple drawings of animals, but representations of the experiences which have marked their lives”. Chiara Belliti is enthusiastic about the project: “As a Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadress – she said to us – I am pleased and proud that Michelangelo Pistoletto’s sign of the Third Paradise and Monica Pais with her animals without owners have crossed ways. It was inevitable, that’s what happens when you work to take care of the world”.

Rescuing lives – concludes Monica – is a cause of joy for us, a feeling also infecting the families who adopt our ‘little wrecks’, as I like to call them. “Effetto Palla” is a sort of crowd-funding project collecting happiness”. But where is Palla now? And how is she? “Palla now lives with me and she’s completely recovered. Is she happy? I hope so”.
Monica and Palla, a crossing of destinies which has created a trail of solidarity able to bring happiness to anybody who has crossed path with the animals.
It is dispensing love, in any form, that every day the rebirth run reaches its finishing line.

Links to further info and contacts:
Facebook page “Clinica Veterinaria Due Mari”
Facebook page “Effetto Palla”
5×1000 to “Effetto Palla”

The calendar is available from Cittadellarte store (store@cittadellarte.it, 015.0991461).