CLAW robbed of power

A poisoned dog arrives at the CLAW clinic in Durban Deep.A large dog arrives at the International Fund for Animal Welfare partner Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) clinic in Durban Deep, a clinic which serves the desperately poor communities surrounding it. She’s unresponsive, cold to the touch, and uttering heart-breaking wails, jerking involuntarily.

Poisoning.

Almost certainly she’s accidentally eaten some poison concealed in food to bait the thriving rat population in the tough township environment where CLAW works.

She needs some drugs, and urgently. To judge the dose, the veterinary staff have to be able to weigh her. For several years, that was a difficult task, because CLAW had no electricity: weighing a dog meant wrestling with a manual scale. But thanks to a kind donation of solar panels and an electric scale, it’s easy to pop a dog on the scale and get an accurate weight. The veterinary staff can start fighting the poison immediately, and this girl has a fighting chance.

Read: With drought still ravaging South Africa, at least CLAW’s got power!

Except that’s no longer true.

It was true on Saturday, when this beautiful shepherd-type dog was brought in by a frantic owner. But in the middle of the night on Sunday 19th June, thieves broke into the premises, climbed onto the roof, and stole half of the solar panels.

CLAW is almost back to square one; there are insufficient panels left to provide power.

It’s a crushing blow. How can you run a veterinary clinic without electricity? It was precisely this quandary that forced CLAW to separate its activities over two years ago, running a surgery from premises some 13 kilometres away. Services at Durban Deep were limited to things like assessment, dripping dehydrated dogs, vaccination and tick control; we were unable to perform sterilisations and other surgeries on site.

The past several months have been times of hope at CLAW. Plans to relocate the entire veterinary service back to Durban Deep were well underway; the premises had been given a facelift, with potted plants and benches for waiting clients and a lick or two of paint. Space was being made for the animals who would have to be brought back to the clinic – fencing was being put up and runs being built.

Read: CLAW is coming home

There was an energy, a bustle that spoke of forward thinking and anticipation.

It seems cruel that an organisation so devoted to serving the animals of the poor should be the target of thievery like this. But CLAW will – and must – continue its work. The winter is only half over, and it’s been unusually tough so far.

The people of these townships, and their animals, need help even more urgently than ever before.

--MS

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