Cape Town: Solutions for pets of the poor

There's a school of thought that says poor people shouldn't own pets. Those who think so should meet the clients of Mdzananda Animal Clinic, IFAW's dog and cat project in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Khayelitsha Township is a sprawling mix of shantytown and low-cost, government subsidized housing on the “Cape Flats,” an area of Cape Town where at least one million people live.

Caring deeply for their pets despite economic hardship

Khayelitsha’s pet owners are well known for their loyalty to their dogs and cats and for their creative ways of transporting them to IFAW’s Mdzananda clinic.

Because they are not allowed to take pets on public transport, and most do not have access to private vehicles, pet owners can be seen pushing their dogs and cats in shopping trolleys, placing them in the baskets of bikes or bringing them in makeshift carts. Of course, many pets come on leashes or are carried in their owners' arms.

Few clinics, many animals to care for

Most people in Khayelitsha care deeply for their pets and are dedicated to ensuring that their pets receive care. But many people don't know what kind of care a pet needs. IFAW's Mdzananda Animal Clinic is one of very few veterinary resources available in the community and Mdzananda's outreach staff is there to help. Operating six days a week, IFAW’s clinic is free and receives no financial support from the City of Cape Town.

All of Mdzananda’s permanent staff come from the surrounding community. In addition, enthusiastic local and international vets, and a band of regular volunteers, regularly donate their spare time to help the animals. This community-centered focus reflects IFAW’s approach to integrating communities in the work we do, making them part of the solution.

IFAW's dog and cat project has become an integral part of the Khayelitsha community. Known by its local name "Mdzananda" it is one of Cape Town's best-known animal welfare institutions.