Help rescue a dog with shelter

Another kennel making its way to Imizamo Yethu.

A local rescue organisation needs you to lend a helping hand to man’s best friend as winter sets in.

Claws & Paws Rescue in Hout Bay has been providing animal relief during the Covid-19 lockdown period, focusing on food distribution and vet care for the local animals, but also helping stray or injured animals and providing kennels.

Liz Bester, director of the organisation, explained that their operations were mostly carried out in Hangberg, having officially opened in the winter of 2017

“We saw how desperate the need was for kennels and blankets. Having put out a plea on social media for assistance in obtaining kennels, we were able to provide many homes for all the dogs who had previously been exposed to the elements,” she said, adding that kennels were either sponsored by the Purple Kennel Project or donated by people who no longer needed them.

This year the initiative was kicked off by a member from a fellow rescue organisation, Animal Lifeline, which raised funds and gathered unused kennels.

“Many of the kennels were repaired to make them habitable and were gratefully received in Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg,” Ms Bester said.

They have added to their stock by adding 10 pre-loved kennels with another 14 sponsored kennels, a joint community endeavour which saw another local organisation, Sia’s Rescues, jumping on board to assist.

Alan Schmaman is one of the volunteers at Sia’s Rescue and carries out some of the kennel deliveries. “We enjoy working together and believe we make a good team. We find it highly rewarding assisting in our local communities,” he said.

An animal lover who has volunteered at various animal shelters, Mr Schmaman spent his days before the Covid-19 walking dogs at one of the local shelters in the area. 

“I saw that they were therefore putting out an appeal for food donations as well as for volunteers to assist in the mammoth task involved with the distribution of it among dog owners, in addition to the many stray dogs who roam the streets of Hangberg,” he said.

Kennels are free, with the only requirement being that the dogs receiving their new homes, be sterilised.

“The importance of this initiative is two-fold – to provide much-needed shelter and to promote sterilisation. In other words, only dogs that have been sterilised will receive a kennel or when the owners give an unconditional undertaking to have their animals sterilised. There is no cost incurred by the owners for these kennels,” Ms Bester said.

Since the beginning of lockdown, the Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG) sterilised over 100 animals.

Faustina Gardner, Darg’s director, said they remained focused on sterilising dogs in both Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg to prevent pet overpopulation. “Charities have teamed up to bring relief to dogs in need during winter,” she said.

However, Darg also warned dog owners if they don’t dry their dogs’ blankets, black mould can grow in the blankets and spread to the inside of the kennels and damage it. Lying on an icy, sopping wet blanket can also cause hypothermia for dogs if they have no other form of shelter.

The need for kennels also grows each day. Said Ms Bester: “Very often there is no space in the home for the animals to be inside and they are therefore exposed to the elements all year round.”

She said they have many people kindly offering to donate their old kennels, but transporting the kennels from various addresses is a bit of a challenge. “Most of the time, a bakkie and/or a trailer are required, also strong bodies to assist.

“The sturdier wooden kennels are extremely heavy and are difficult to carry to some inaccessible homes in Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu,” Ms Bester said. “What we’d like to achieve is getting as many dogs as possible sterilised and thus providing them with safe, warm kennels.”

For more on how you can assist or sponsor or donate a kennel, visit the Claws & Paws Rescue Facebook page and post a message.