Animal-rescue man needs help to rebuild after fire

Firefighters extinguish the fire that destroyed the Newman family’s home and animal-rescue shelter on Wednesday morning December 27 last year. Photos: supplied.

The owner of a Hout Bay animal-rescue shelter is appealing for help after a fire late last year destroyed his family home and animal enclosures.

Shaygam Newman says he lost everything when his two-bedroom shack in Salamander Road above Hout Bay Harbour caught alight in the early hours of Wednesday December 27 last year.

His wife, Cashney, said she and her husband and their two children had been staying over at her mother’s house in Ocean View at the time.

“We received a call from one of our neighbours around 3am saying that they saw flames coming from our yard… When they called us, the firefighters were already there. The boy who usually watched over our yard and animals when were away wasn’t there at the time of the fire. We arrived at our home in less than half an hour, but by that time, we lost everything already,” she said.

City Fire and Rescue spokesman Jermaine Carelse said firefighters had responded at 5am and extinguished the fire by about 6am.

The cause of the fire is yet to be identified.

Mr Newman said they had lost one of their Jack Russell terriers in the fire and two other dogs had been treated for burns by Tears Animal Rescue.

There had been some 200 animals – including 15 dogs, six cats, chickens, ducks, peacocks and birds – at the shelter at the time of the fire, according to Ms Newman.

Some of their dogs fled up the mountain at the time of the fire Ms Newman added.

Mr Newman said he had started collecting stray dogs in the area from the age of 13.

“I didn’t go to school because I had no financial support for that so dogs became my loved ones. I collected them from the street and began building a shack so that I can look after them.

“When I started walking around on the beach with the dogs, the people helped me by buying food for them. I then became involved with Network For Animals, who helped me build fencing and a wall to enclose the dogs.”

Mr Newman said that while the dog kennels had not been touched by the fire he needed help rebuilding the other animal enclosures.

“Although all the kennels were saved, I still have chickens and ducks that need secure enclosures. We also need dog and cat food and building materials as I’m trying to rebuild our home.“

Mr Newman thanked Susan Williams, of Sun Valley in Fish Hoek, who he said had been the first person to donate pet food.

“I’ve known her from the time she used to work here in Hout Bay. She always helped me with buying food for my dogs,” he said.

Ms Williams said: “When I’m not at work, I’m often helping Mr Newman. He initially had a lot of animal feed stored, but the fire destroyed everything so we have to start all over again.”

Call Shaygam Newman at 061 368 4392 or Susan Williams at 069 873 5912 if you would like to help.

Shaygam Newman, far right, surveys the damage to his home and animal shelter in the aftermath of the fire late last year.
Susan Williams and Shaygam Newman pose for a photo after she dropped off donations on Monday January 22.