Johannesburg: IFAW provides vital pet care services

In the dusty shantytowns that surround Johannesburg, South Africa, pet owners have little access to veterinary services. IFAW’s Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) clinic, education and outreach provide compassionate, caring--and above all--consistent help to Johannesburg’s dogs and cats and their people.

IFAW provides resources when others can’t

Historically, veterinary clinics and animal welfare support were only found in the former whites-only suburbs of South Africa. In the modern-day, faced with human welfare issues such as poverty, housing needs, education and HIV/AIDS, the government allocates few resources to veterinary health and animal welfare.

IFAW’s CLAW 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.

CLAW goes where no one else will go

IFAW is the only provider of animal healthcare in most of the townships in which we work, providing lifesaving support for 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. CLAW treats pets 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 veterinary 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 more than 300,000 people and their pets.

CLAW 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 more than 50 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.

WATCH "People of Dogs" below - An IFAW produced video about the vital care CLAW provides to animals in and around Johannesburg.