CLAW’s date a dog success

His paws just reach the top of the play pen. His eyes peering up as hands reach down and stroke his silky soft coat. His eyes close in delight. His pen mates scatter to nearby reaching hands, seeking their own attention. A lead clips onto his collar and his eyes pop open, tail wagging in excitement. Time for a date!

CLAW, IFAW’s Johannesburg based community animal project, is at the forefront of creative adoption techniques. Based as it is in Durban Deep, Roodepoort an area frequently plagued by civic unrest, potential adopters either feel uncomfortable driving out to the  project, or just find it too far out to drive to. This has resulted in some creative tactics to counter these problems.

CLAW has participated in the Linden Market three times with great success. The “Date-a-Dog” concept was brought to CLAW by Karen Carr and is sponsored by Benji+Moon, an online shop selling artisan-crafted products for dogs and cats. Karen is no stranger to dog adopting, having adopted Maggie, a dog rescued by CLAW from a dog fighting ring.

The idea is that potential adopters and adoptees can meet in a social atmosphere. “Date-a-Dog” has been phenomenally successful, with all the CLAW dogs “dated” at the first market being adopted and substantial sums of money being raised for CLAW’s vital work to provide veterinary services in some of South Africa’s most marginalised communities.

The market is advertised weeks in advance and potential adopters are encouraged to contact CLAW so a home inspection can be conducted prior to the market. Those that do not have pre-clearance are subject to a home inspection within days of the market to check on the suitability of the environment for the needs of their chosen dog.

“If people cannot get to CLAW, we will bring CLAW to them” says CLAW vet nurse Jennifer Gerner, who is also the adoptions manager. This past weekend the CLAW booth drew large crowds with many people enquiring if the dogs were rescues and if the dogs were for “sale” or “adoption”. “It is great to see people asking these questions” says CLAW vet nurse Angela Voyiatzakis. This shows mindful adoption and is important in encouraging responsible pet ownership.

As the day drew to an end, emotions became evident in the CLAW staff and volunteers, as the reality of having to take those dogs that had not been adopted back to the project premises became real again.

“All of these dogs should have a home of their own, chasing balls and being able to sleep on someone’s lap,” said Jennifer wistfully looking on a pen of hopeful wagging tails. 


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