‘Please don’t dump your animals’

Quin, 8 weeks old, and Gabby, 7 months old, a bit shy of the camera, are both dogs that were found in the streets of Mitchells Plain. Gabby was taken in by Vanessa Martin after she was found at a bus stop in Bayview and Quin was found at a house after his mother gave birth to 12 puppies in Eastridge, he is looking to be adopted.

When we talk about neglect, we often fail to include the plight of stray animals, says Vanessa Martin who started Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare in 2014.

Ms Martin, 48, from Eastridge, said seeing dogs roaming the streets of Lentegeur had touched her heart and made her want to do something to help them.

She told the Plainsman that people dumped animals “all over the place, especially along Baden Powell Drive” which she described as a “hot spot” for abandoning animals.

“If we find out who does this to the animals, it will be reported,” she warned.

Ms Martin said animals were often found in packets, often cats or newborn animals.

“The children will always come and show me the cats in the packets as well as the newborn animals that they’ve found on the field,” she said. “It pains me to see what is happening with the animals. Dogs are left to die and it is not a pretty site. I just want to give these dogs a voice and I want it to be heard.”

Ms Martin said her aim was to raise awareness around the rights of animals and the ethical treatment of these creatures.

“You can get a fine and be arrested for treating these animals the way the people do. I would like to raise awareness on this issue. If your child is sick you would go out of your way to take care of your child, the same should be done for your pet as they need love and affection too,” she said.“When the animal is born or still a young cat or dog, people fall in love with that and then decide to take in the pet based on how the pet looks. Once the pet grows older, they tend to neglect the pet and that is how the problem would start.”

The Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare works with Philippi Animal Welfare and the SPCA.

And owning a pet doesn’t have to break the bank, said Ms Martin. Organisations like the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, for example, offers affordable sterilisation for pets, as well as deworming and vaccination.

While the Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare deals mostly with domestic animals such as cats and dogs, they have on occasion had to handle horses and snakes, said Ms Martin. As for their treatment philosophy, she said: “We are a pro-life organisation, we try to fix and mend. We deal with different cases such as animals having mange and falling ill. When the animal is too sick to overcome the illness, the animal will be euthanised.”

Ms Martin also urged pet owners to make sure their furry friends were protected against the cold winter weather. “The dogs get cold,” she said. “The notion of animals clothed in their own hair, warming them is a false belief. They need to have a kennel and a blanket. They need to be kept warm during winter. If they get hungry, feed them at least two to three meals a day.”

If you would like to adopt an animal, you will go through a screening process as well as regular home checks. You will also be required to sign an adoption agreement and when the pet reaches six months old, they will need to be sterilised.

The Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare is also able to help re-home pets. “We can’t always do it as there are limited resources but we will be able to refer you to the relevant people to assist you.”

If you would like to surrender your pet due to financial difficulties and you do not have transport to take your pet to SPCA, you can call the SPCA on 021 700 4147 or SMS SPCA at 083 3226 1604.

The Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare also do feeding schemes and dipping (for ticks and flees) once a week in Freedom Park, Tafelsig and Paulsberg Street, Eastridge. If you want to donate to the Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare, you can WhatsApp or SMS Vanessa Martin at 071 100 2110.