Spotlight South Africa: the CLAW team rescues two surprisingly chubby puppies

The mother in the drain.Being a mom is a stressful job, with any mother willing to risk her life for her children, as any one of us would attest to.  In this case of a mother dog with three-week old pups, it was no different, with her risking her life for her pups. 

After receiving a call from a concerned animal lover that a dog had given birth inside the walls of a drain situated behind a very busy warehouse with heavily laden trucks passing by throughout the day, Cora makes this emergency call a priority. 

My colleague and I accompany Cora to the warehouse and upon arrival, Cora assesses the situation and we start considering rescue options, one which will cause the minimal amount of stress to the mother dog and her pups. 

Mother dog appears and looks on inquisitively as we hover around the entrance of the drain.  

We encourage the mother to go inside so she can give us a clue to the location of her pups.

She enters the drain and in true fear factor like mode, putting her fear of rats and mice aside, Cora sticks her head in.  The smell of raw sewage permeates from the drain as Cora and Christina hunch down at the entrance of the drain in an attempt to ascertain how far inside the walls of the drain the mother dog and pups are sheltering. 

After numerous acrobatic antics with mobile phone in one hand and torch in the other, mother dog is eventually located and it would seem as if there are at least two pups inside with her. 

We make our first attempt in trying to get the pups out, with no success.

At this stage we are forced to break our rescue attempts to go and collect a monkey who has eluded capture for six weeks...after which the call is made to reattempt the rescue the next morning. 

So, with pole, net, mobile phone and torch in hand, we arrive once again at the warehouse next morning, more determined than ever to retrieve these pups. 

Mother dog greets us with a wag of her tail and I follow her as she runs to a kennel nearby, where her other two pups are, almost as if she is saying "okay here are two of them, now please fetch the others".

Cora and Christina again attempt to retrieve the pups who seem to be situated at least two to three metres inside the drain. 

Before long, Cora jumps on the phone to De Villiers Katywa, longtime colleague and experienced Animal Welfare Assistant and calls upon him to come assist.   

With over twenty years experience in animal welfare and rescues, De Villiers is one of Cora's most trusted employees. 

He arrives with Dr Eric Mimbe and Hassan.

In the meantime, mother dog has reentered the drain to check on her pups. 

Cora, the mother and one of the two chubby puppies.CLAW's Animal Rescue team made up of De Villiers, Eric and Hassan spring into action without a moment’s hesitation.  Within seconds, the entrance of the drain is cleared from rubble and soil and De Villiers disappears inside the drain.

Like a mother giving birth, mother dog appears with one of her pups, with shouts of excitement all around from the small group of people gathered to witness the rescue.

Cora reaches down and retrieves the pup, with a concerned mother dog staying close to her side. 

Within seconds, the second pup is carefully handed to Hassan by De Villiers who takes one last look inside to make sure no pups have been left behind.

We are surprised to find that the two pups are fat and podgy, not at all what we were expecting after having lived in a  drain for three weeks. 

Mother dog's instinct has obviously ensured that she give them more attention than the others to ensure their survival. 

It’s a heartwarming scene as she stays close to her pups and their rescuers, Cora, De Villiers, Eric and Hassan.  

Thanks to Cora Bailey and the CLAW team, IFAW's Christina Pretorius, as well as a concerned animal lover, a very exhausted mommy dog was reunited with all her pups.  

She has since been sterilised and her and her pups are living happily with their new family. 


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy