Johannesburg: Providing vital pet care services
In the dusty shantytowns that surround Johannesburg, South Africa, pet owners have little access to veterinary services. IFAW’s clinic, education and outreach provide compassionate, caring – and above all – consistent help to Johannesburg’s pets and their people.
Abandoned Dogs of Apartheid
Historically, veterinary clinics and animal welfare support were only found in the former whites-only suburbs of South Africa. Faced with human welfare issues such as poverty, housing, education and HIV/AIDS, the government could allocate very few resources to veterinary health and animal welfare.
IFAW’s Dog and Cat Rescue Project in Johannesburg began in 1992, during the waning days of apartheid, when IFAW’s Senior Advisor Cora Bailey was asked to rescue the dogs of families displaced by political violence. Astounded by the plight of sick and malnourished pets, Cora became determined to help.
Going Where No One Else Will Go
IFAW is the only provider of animal healthcare in most of the areas in which we work, treating up to 700 animals a week in some of the most appalling conditions imaginable.
People line up by the hundreds in debris-strewn fields or on street corners carrying their dogs and cats in blankets, cardboard boxes and pushcarts. Pets are treated for common afflictions such as mange, distemper and parasites. All the while, Cora and her team make their daily rounds to townships, informal settlements, and garbage dumps searching for sick and homeless animals desperately in need of medical treatment and food.
Mobile services bring critical care to animals that would otherwise go without. The project’s full-service veterinary clinic, located on the grounds of the Durban Deep mine close to Soweto, provides a permanent resource for a community of over 300,000 people and their pets.
As the only community resource for dogs and cats, IFAW’s Johannesburg project provides life-saving support to the community’s animals every day.
Known locally as the Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) project, IFAW also works in collaboration with human-aid organizations that address AIDS-afflicted and other severely ill and abandoned adults and children, conditions that are common in the townships. CLAW also runs a children’s educational program that teaches responsible pet care and kindness, while providing a healthy meal for children and their pets every weekend.
The project aims to extend its reach to even more communities in the growing Johannesburg townships, continuing as an example of how human and animal health and well being are intrinsically interconnected, and how compassion truly begins at the community level.