Clinic helps im­prove care of dogs

Vac­ci­na­tions and ed­u­ca­tion pro­vided at lit­tle or no cost

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY SCHALK VAN ZUYDAM BOTSWANA

ACAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA n an­i­mal-wel­fare group is try­ing to help dog lovers in an im­pov­er­ished South African town­ship bet­ter care for their pets. The Mdzananda clinic in the sprawl­ing Khayelit­sha town­ship started in 1996 in one ship­ping con­tainer.

To­day, an op­er­at­ing room and other fa­cil­i­ties are housed in seven brightly painted ship­ping con­tain­ers equipped with electricity and run­ning water and filled with the smell of anes­thetic and the sound of dogs bark­ing ner­vously.

The In­ter­na­tional Fund for An­i­mal Wel­fare funds the clinic and brings in vol­un­teer vet­eri­nar­i­ans.

Lisa Cant-haylett of the an­i­mal­wel­fare fund said the clinic pro­vides ba­sic care, in­clud­ing spay­ing and neu­ter­ing, and ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple who might not oth­er­wise have a chance to learn how to care for their an­i­mals.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion funds a sim­i­lar clinic in Jo­han­nes­burg’s Soweto town­ship.

“One of the main things are too many dogs for the amount of peo­ple in our area. Ed­u­ca­tion about ster­il­iza­tion is very im­por­tant,” said Dr. Gemma Driscoll, a Bri­tish vet­eri­nar­ian work­ing in Khayelit­sha.

Last year, Mdzananda ster­il­ized 1,584 an­i­mals and pro­vided vac­ci­na­tions, de­worm­ing and other care to thou­sands of pets at low or no cost. Dogs and cats can get care at Mdzananda.

Ntombi Somdyala was in re­cently for vac­ci­na­tions for her dog, Nicki, who was ster­il­ized ear­lier at Mdzananda.

“The clinic took care of her and ed­u­cated me why this was needed,” Ms. Somdyala said as Nicki watched her closely.

Ev­ery af­ter­noon, clinic as­sis­tant La­zola So­ty­ingwa de­liv­ers or picks up dogs whose own­ers through­out the town­ship can­not af­ford to travel to the clinic.

As Mr. So­ty­ingwa drives, pulling a trailer painted with gi­ant light­blue and black paw prints be­hind his white truck, he stops to res­cue wan­der­ing dogs at risk of be­ing hit by cars.

Ms. Cant-haylett said the wan­der­ers aren’t all strays. Some own­ers don’t un­der­stand that they should con­fine their dogs for their safety, she said.

The dog own­ers “maybe have the best of in­ten­tions, but have never been taught any bet­ter,” Ms. Can­tHaylett said, adding that it was im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine how many strays are loose in Khayelit­sha.

Each time a dog gets dropped off or picked up, Mr. So­ty­ingwa gives pet care tips to the own­ers. He dreams of vis­it­ing schools across South Africa.

“We need to ed­u­cate peo­ple how to look af­ter their dogs,” he said. “These dogs are also cit­i­zens of South Africa.”

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