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Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Firstly, I used the word “charities” in the title, I am fully aware that the proper term is “welfare”, but as will become clear, my use is justified.

A recent experience with rescuing a feral cat has, again, reminded me why I am no longer active in animal welfare organisations, but prefer to support them in other ways.

Round about a year ago we spotted two feral kittens in the parking lot of our local pub. As is usual with ferals, we could not get anywhere near them and they were not always there. Some time later we realised that there was only one left – nature probably taking its mysterious course.

Fast forward to mid August this year and the one feral was still around! The evening car guard/security guy had started feeding it and got it to a point where it would go to him and rub up against him. After chatting to him, we realised that he was just as scared as we were that the cat would be run over. He even named it Whiskas, after the food he bought and fed him (it was now obvious that it was a male).

We thought about it and decided to do something about the situation, all with the security guy’s blessing. We first contacted the PDSA (SA) for assistance and they were more than willing to help, but have a very strict ten days between inoculation and neutering policy. With the amount of animals that they handle, this is totally understandable, but we had nowhere to keep Whiskas for the ten days.

Plan B, we approached a local, highly reputable, animal welfare organisation. They unfortunately cannot take in feral cats, but was willing to assist with the medical stuff and try to find a foster home, if not a forever home.

All this in place it was now a case of actually catching Whiskas with the least upheaval. The idea was to get the help of the security guy late one afternoon and take the cat directly to the animal organisation.

I must just mention that we also discussed this with the usual crowd at the pub and they all agreed to contribute towards any costs. In fact one evening we had a whip round and collected a reasonable sum for Whiskas’ food.

Just when we thought all was well and in hand, the animal organisation had a crisis with an over-full hospital and wouldn’t be able to take care of Whiskas for some weeks.

In the meantime, we all feared that Whiskas could be stolen, or worse run over, as it got tamer and tamer and was regularly seen crossing the, at times, very busy street.

Right, onto Plan C. On a Wednesday I placed a photo of Whiskas with an appeal for help on our Facebook page.

On the Friday morning we spoke to our local vet who offered to do all the necessary for free! Leukemia and feline AIDS tests, neutering and inoculations included. We immediately posted this on Facebook, this time with an appeal for a home.

By Saturday we had found Whiskas a permanent home and posted the good news!

Little did we know what we had let ourselves in for. A lot of very positive messages, but some not so nice.

One lady was immediately up in arms as to how we dare interfere as she had been “working on this for months” and insisted on getting involved and doing a home check and vetting the prospective new owner. The fact that she currently runs an animal shelter and that we have had many years of experience in animal welfare, which she would have known had she bothered to just read our biographies on our web site, counted for nothing. Clearly her nose was out of joint as we succeeded in a matter of days while she was still nowhere near solving it.

I wish I could post the message she sent us, but I do not want to reveal her identity. Unlike her, I did my homework and know what she looks like and am pretty convinced that she tried to interfere further on Monday by pitching up in the parking lot and hung around for a while. Fortunately for her, it seemed like too much effort and she left before the action started. Had she tried to interfere, I may have lost my cool and said some things…

Another lady also got in on the act and quoted her experience and made it seem like we were evil and had no right to rescue a cat without her blessing and assistance.

Well, to these two ladies and all the other (few) negative people out there, all I can say is that you obviously lost sight of the goal – it is about the animal’s wellbeing, not your personal glory.

This is a phenomenon that is often found in animal “charity” organisations; they forgot the “welfare” bit and seem to be doing it just for their own self-gratification.

Exactly one of the reasons why we are no longer actively involved, but rather donate money as we can and when a case like Whiskas cross our path, we will make a difference, even if it is only one animal at a time.

End rant, back to Whiskas, as I am sure you want to know what happened next. On Monday, armed with a cat carrier, I went to the parking lot, met up with the new owner and the security guy. We decided the least stressful, for Whiskas, course of action is to place the carrier at his usual feeding spot with his food inside and let him get in. We all kept a respectful distance and let Whiskas set the pace. Well, until another lady decided she knew better and despite my asking her to keep a distance and not crowd the cat, she insisted on going up to him and play with him with a stick which “he loves”.

That did not work, it just scared Whiskas and this lady decided to pick him up – Whiskas does not like being picked up! He, of course, freaked out and she nearly let go of him, which would have meant all our efforts that day was in vain. I almost screamed at her and told her to now keep hold and get Whiskas into the carrier, so much for minimising his stress! Thank you interfering lady!

Once he was in the carrier he was very upset, but by the time I got him into the car, he had settled down and did not move a make a sound during the five minute trip to the vet. There he was warmly received and seemed quite relaxed in the safety of his little box.

Tuesday morning he passed all his test with a big negative (a good thing in this case) and will be going to his forever home on Wednesday!!!!

A happy ending, for a change!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


A few nights ago we were watching an episode of Criminal Minds and the end quote really got to me.

To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do, therefore, is to strive, and persevere, and never give up - Dalai Lama, the 14th.”

This really hit home with me as I have always believed, and lived, under the impression and belief that while I cannot change the world totally, I can make small changes, one change at a time.

The Dalai Lama has put my life philosophy into words far better than I ever could.

I, far too often, hear the argument that the problem is too big for saving one animal to make difference. I cannot save all stray animals, but I can save one animal and make a difference to its life.

Just like no animal welfare organisation can sterilise all the dogs in an area, they can sterilise some of them, if one dog does not breed, there are 4-6 puppies less that grow up as feral, uncared and unloved dogs.

Of the four animals we currently have (two dogs and two cats), three were stray or unwanted when we got them. We have provided two dogs and one cat a loving, caring home instead of them being on the street, having to fend for themselves, possibly ending up in pounds where they would not have survived.

Did we do the right thing in “saving” them, or should we have left them to “natural selection”?

I very strongly believe that when we decided to adopt cats and dogs as pets, we interfered with the natural order of life and we cannot now abdicate that responsibility. We have to care for these animals that would otherwise have lived natural lives as either predators or prey. We played god, now we have to take on the role of god and care for our animals.

Would you like your god to turn around an say, “Tough, baby, your are on your own?”

I don’t think so, so how come it is all right to leave dogs and cats to now fend for themselves?

Take responsibility; One animal at a time – you can make a difference!


Dog & Cat Pad’s recent trip to DARG again reminded me of what wonderful people staff animal rescue centres.

I suspect few visitors to rescue centres realise how many of the staff are volunteers and how little the few permanent staff is paid. No one gets rich from working at a rescue centre.

Why do they do it then? Purely for the love of the animals and to try and make a difference, one animal at a time.

What often gets forgotten, even by the staff themselves, is the emotional toll it takes. Far too often they only realise it themselves after they’re burnt out.

You know the anguish you and your family goes through every time you lose a beloved pet, now think about that happening on a daily basis to you. Don’t think you get immune to it, you never get immune to animals suffering and you are often the one that has to make that final decision.

Of course, it is worse when the animal has been there for a while, you grow attached to it, no matter how hard you try not to.

Every loss is taken personally and you are left wondering if there was one more thing you could’ve done.

Don’t even think about their family lives. Looking after a rescue centre is not a morning job, it is a 24/7 job with late night call outs to rescue some scared (sometimes vicious) animal or to take care of a medical emergency at the rescue centre. Very few, if any in South Africa, can afford a full time vet on staff. At best they have a network of kind vets that can take care of emergencies, but the animal has to get to the vet.

So, no family life, the divorce rate at rescue centres are extraordinarily high.

When the rescue centre has a vehicle, it is mostly an older model that was donated by a kind patron and the centre has to service it, and that costs. Staff use their own vehicles and mostly “forget” to claim for petrol and mileage, they do it and will keep on doing it because it is for the animals.

To sum up, no money, no family life, high vehicle costs, why do they keep on doing it day after day, year in, year out?

Simply, they are angels!

Next time you visit an animal rescue centre, spare a thought for the staff and volunteers and maybe, take them a cake. Best yet, adopt an animal, seeing a lonely unloved dog or cat get a new loving home is the best reward!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


We all love the movies and if there is a cuddly, loveable dog or cat featured, even better, isn’t it?

Not for me, I hate those movies, not only because despite the Humane Society of America stamp of approval at the end of the credits, I am never too sure about how the animals were treated off screen.

Nowadays, computer graphics have largely replaced live animals in the movies, but I still hate them.

Why? These movies cause endless problems for animal rescue centres worldwide.

Within six months of the release of movies like 101 Dalmatians, Jock of the Bushveld, Beethoven and so on, rescue centres were inundated with unwanted Dalmatians, Staffies and St. Bernards.

It has been many years since the Lassie movies (showing my age here) and the demand for Rough Collies have declined to the point where it is difficult to find one (they are, in case you haven’t paid attention to my previous blogs, my favourite dog breed). Still, they made a huge impact as I often tell people my dog is a Rough Collie and I get blank stares until I say it is a Lassie Dog!

Please, Hollywood, be kind to us and don’t even think of remaking Lassie! These gentle dogs will not do well in rescue centres.

Any movie featuring a dog or cat leads to an increase in demand for them as pets (Babe was no exception, who knew pigs could be cuddly pets?).

People get this romantic picture of their ideal pet and immediately want one!

Hello! Garfield is a cartoon cat and does not actually exist – I’ve never come across a cat that craves lasagne! I love the cartoon and would really like to have a cat like Garfield – not going to happen, it is fantasy! Trust me, I’ve had a ginger cat – so not like Garfield.

I know some of these movies are based on real stories, but it has had the Hollywood treatment and has been romanticised.

Please people, get the difference between fantasy and reality. It is only a movie and animals are not fashion items, to be discarded at the end of the season.

Never base the choice of a pet on a movie character, choose the animal that best suits you (or even better, you it).  Best of all, choose a senior cat or dog from your local rescue centre and give it a second chance!