IFAW S. Africa: Prince Albert Sterilisation Project - "A Well Oiled Machine"
This post is provided by Christina Pretorius of the International Fund for Animal Welfare who will spend the next few days in the tiny village of Prince Albert, high in the snow- covered Swartberg Mountains of South Africa, to document this important sterilisation project.
The system’s running, as the old cliché goes, like a well-oiled machine. The idea to use the loud hailer to ask North Enders to bring their pets to our clinic early yesterday morning was a bit of a waste of time – only seven people showed up with their dogs. And this despite Jane Levinson and volunteer Marion Walker braving the winter morning dark and freezing chill to hit the township at 06h30 to give people a reminder wake-up call, so to speak.
No matter, by 7h30 the AWA’s were out on the streets collecting pooches and pussies, while the vets got prepped and ready back at surgery. By 08h30 the first patients of the day were registered, weighed and pre-medded and from then on and throughout the day we began a steady processing of shuttling back and forth collecting pets for surgery, and returning those who had recovered and woken up.
We’ve encountered something interesting in the past two days – a number of people saying their dogs don’t need sterilising because they have already had an “inspuiting” (injection in the local Afrikaans dialect). We were wondering about this when I suddenly remembered that at one time women in South Africa were given contraceptives by injection – it seems that this notion of family planning by “inspuiting” still prevails.
Then of course there are plenty of men – particularly the owners of fighting breeds like pit bulls – who aren’t keen on sterilisation of their dogs at all. Cobus Ferreira, from the local Department of Agriculture, said that while Prince Albert doesn’t have a culture of dog fighting – the village is just too small for people to get away with it – people here do breed their dogs and then sell on the puppies in larger towns.
Yesterday our incredible team of vets, vet nurses and assistants sterilised an incredible 100 dogs without a single loss. So last night was cause for celebration and we were invited to go on the Art After Dark tour at the Villa Kruger by curator Hennie Boshoff. It was an utterly surreal experience to view giant, and very provocative sculptures by artists from around the world, by spotlight and under the magnificent Karoo night sky with shooting stars to boot. If ever you are in this part of the world make sure you do this tour – check it out at www.azazel.com/villakruger
Today Jane Levinson and I took on cat collection duty, and have spent the day bouncing around North End collecting and dropping sterilised cats. It was incredible because on literally every street we were spotting dogs still sporting their labeled operation collars – it was an amazing feeling of achievement.
It’s just after dark now and as I write this Jane Levinson is still out their delivering the last cats home – I salute her for her amazing commitment to this project. She’s an absolute gem.
Back at clinic today, the novelty value of having the Prince Albert Sterilisation Project in the village has worn off. For the past three days we’ve had crowds of curious villagers popping onto the surgery premises to peer through the windows and find out what we have been up to. Today it was utterly quiet, and a relief to the vets and the rest of us who needed to take some R ‘n R in the sun from time to time.
And, having just done a tally of today’s figures, I’m immensely proud to say that today our team sterilised 122 dogs and cats. I can’t wait to tell the team when we meet for dinner shortly. Go team!
For more information about IFAW's work around the world please visit www.ifaw.org.