Marion Schweriner at SOS Animal Mallorca. | Marion Schweriner

Marion Schweriner arrived to Mallorca in the 70’s and not many Scandinavians had found their place yet. She was trained as a teacher in modern languages and an entrepreneur. She was one of the first who started with private home holiday rentals on the island.

“I lived the first 20 years in both Fornalutx and Soller. In Fornalutx, my then husband and I ran an orange plantation up in the mountains. It was said that our oranges were some of the best at the time and we sold to the Cooperativa in Soller, among others. We had lots of animals: cats, dogs, goats, chickens and ducks. There were no vets but we found one in Cala Mayor when one of our cats was hit by a car. In those days the cats hunted mice and rats, the dogs were put out as puppies on small estates to keep weasels and similar predators away from chicken and rabbit cages. If you thought the nights were silent up in the mountains, you were wrong. Every spring and autumn there was an endless howl from tiny terrified, lonely pups. Most of the cats died from arsenic poisoning released by the rats. Eventually, thanks to the foreigners and their view of animals, small valiant attempts at animal husbandry could be seen."

She remembers “The first years in Soller I travelled over the mountain every day to my job in Palma at the Swedish school. I have a degree in modern languages and a teaching qualification. Later the Soller tunnel was built and with it tourism began to flood into our sheltered valley. I started my own business, Mallorca-Accommodation, aimed at the tourist who wanted their own holiday accommodation. I would say that I was a pioneer in the field and had all the big Real Estates like Kühn & Partner, Engel & Völkers and other smaller local Real Estates that needed my help. At that time, they were only in the business of selling real estate. And many of their buyers wanted to live privately and I was there to arrange housing. The beginning was tough. I could barely operate a computer let alone put up a website. The first few years I advertised in the big Swedish newspapers and when I got an enquiry I took pictures of my properties, wrote a text about the house, and rushed off to the post office. There wasn’t even a mobile phone then and there were long, hard nights waiting for guests to arrive. But things progressed quickly once the first website was made. Enquiries poured in, recommendations too and suddenly everything was running smoothly.”

Marion has always had a soft heart for animals. “All the time I was looking at the animals and seeing how different animal rights organisations were born, how the Mallorcans more and more started to see a dog or a cat as part of the family. Unfortunately, they have a long way to go before they reach the level of knowledge we northerners have about animals and their needs. I have been working as a volunteer at SOS Animal Mallorca for five years now. It is an animal protection association, where we work actively to protect the animals, cats, and dogs. The Calvia Town Hall pays the salary of one permanent employee on both the dog and cat side. Of course, this is not enough. I help on the cat side. Before the pandemic, we had 15,000 euros in veterinary costs alone. Our main task is to take in cats from the street, neuter them and adopt them out. Many of the cats are not tame and can never be tamed. Those cats are clipped in the ear after neutering and released into regulated colonies with the permission of the town hall. The colonies are only getting more and more numerous. The volunteers in charge of the colonies pay for the cat food themselves. We also have volunteers who find pet adoption abroad, volunteers who find people who can take the cats on flights to reach their new families, those who respond on Instagram, those who respond on Facebook, those who post pictures and texts on our page on Facebook, those who respond to what comes in from Instagram or Facebook, those who make house visits to prospective pet adoption homes, etc. Every cat that comes in is registered. Last year’s registration ended at 657 cats. All will have veterinary care, food, cat litter and preferably love. For the most fearful and shy cats we try to find foster homes but also, for the pregnant cats, so that they don’t have to give birth in a cage. In a foster home, the cat can gain trust in humans with the outcome that it can be adopted. If we fail in gaining the cat’s trust, the only alternative is a colony. At SOS Animal alone, we have at least 200 cats divided into two colonies.

But our area of responsibility is large, the whole of Calvia, including Palmanova, Magalluf, Paguera, Son Ferrer and Calvia Vila. It is encouraging that public awareness is increasing and if we could get more information and help from the Town Hall about vaccinating, neutering, and chipping their animals, we might one day be able to avoid all these large colonies of homeless cats."