Christmas cheer from Cape Town

Watch this video (above) of the staff at IFAW’s Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.

As we swiftly move towards the end of yet another year, I am taking some time to stand still and look back over 2014 - its highs, lows, achievements and everything I have learnt.

Life can be so busy and without putting time aside to assess the year that has passed it is so easy to stumble head first into yet another year without acknowledging achievements, praising people for their good work and setting goals for the New Year ahead.

A year and half ago my life changed enormously – I started living my dream. At that time I was frustrated in my work situation. I felt undervalued, disliked my team, kept hitting brick walls and most of all I felt that I was not living out my purpose.

It was time for change – time to take the leap of faith and work for the animals.

I emailed IFAW to tell them about myself and they directed me to the Mdzananda Animal Clinic. It was a match made in heaven. From the moment I started working with Mdzananda I loved it, I loved the people, I felt valued and most of all I was working to better the lives of animals.

Not only has the past year been an amazing journey for me, but the Mdzananda Animal Clinic itself has experienced an explosive 2014. It is hard to put in words what exactly happened to cause such an explosion in growth and demand. To demonstrate our growth one can take a look at our figures. At the beginning of 2014 our monthly expenses were ZAR130,000. By April 2014 it had nearly doubled to ZAR250,000 per month.

Such a leap is unprecedented at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic and is due to the enormous increase in demand for our services and our passion to provide only the best services for the animals of Khayelitsha. Four years ago we had six cages for hospital patients. In 2014 we have over 40 cages.

We are so blessed to have the International Fund of Animal Welfare who assist us to cover a large percentage of these expenses as well as all the individual donors who help us cover  a large remainder of the expenses.

We would never be able to help so many animals without you.

In 2014 we did an enormous amount of work to help the animals of Khayelitsha:

  • Consultation room treatments - 1,481
  • Mobile Clinic Treatments - 1,981
  • Hospital patients - 501
  • Theatre operations - 777
  • Sterilisations - 987
  • Vaccinations - 2,689
  • De-worms - 2,968
  • Flea and tick  - 2,571

Apart from the wonderful numbers reflected above we had some exciting milestones including:

  • the performance of onsite orthopaedic operations, x-rays and blood analysis enabling us to give much higher quality of treatment
  • the participation in the Cape Town City Mass Sterilization Project where approximately      2,000 pets were sterilised in total
  • the launch of our Education Centre sponsored by Uthando as well as upgraded consultation rooms
  • the launch of a Cat Ward
  • one of our staff members diving out of an aeroplane to raise funds for the clinic patients
  • he release of a petition for the justice of Warrior Dog who was buried alive by as school principal, who has not yet paid his fine, or started his sentence more than a year after he was supposed to. To date we have received 1,836 electronic signatures and 600 physical signatures.

The achievements are enormous and I am extremely proud of the wonderful work the Mdzananda team performed.

It was not easy.

We had extremely difficult times throughout 2014, many of them testing everyone’s commitment to their passion and their steadfastness to fight for the animals no matter what.

One specific case stands out to me this year, specifically because of the difficult times we went through and where we are now at the end of this year. It is the story of Spoekie – a miracle case who no one thought would survive but who fought against all odds – just like Mdzananda did through our trying times.

Spoekie, a young, small cross breed, was brought to Mdzananda by his owners who had found him completely unable to move. Only his eyes could move. On examination and after x-rays it was established that Spoekie had numerous broken vertebrae. We suspected that Spoekie was hit with extreme force on his neck by a human trying to break into her owner’s home.

When breaking numerous vertebrae, the expectation is that the dog would be paralyzed from the neck down.

Such a case would normally be put to sleep. 

Our veterinarian, however, was not convinced that this was the right approach and wanted to give Spoekie a chance. It was decided to put a neck brace on Spoekie to prevent any further damage and to prevent damage to the spinal cord. For two weeks Spoekie was on cage rest. The vets and animal welfare assistants turned him routinely to prevent bed sores. They also had to hand feed him and help him to urinate.

Two weeks went by and there was no change, even though his eyes were bright and happy. The very next day Dr Blessing found Spoekie sitting up, drinking water and eating by himself.

A few days later he started walking and within the next two weeks he was running around the clinic.

Spoekie remained with us for nearly two months while he healed completely. His owners came to visit him often. This joyous little dog showed each and every one of us what love and determination can do.

This little dog just did not want to give up no matter how hard the odds.

Thank you Spoeking for not only giving us courage through 2014 but for shining a bright light into 2015 as well.


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Senior Program Advisor
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