Spotlight South Africa: with permanent vet care comes more caring and compassion

One of the project’s resident dogs, wakes up from a slumber and ambles over to Maria for some cuddling and love.Maria Limani moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in 1991. 

She has two children, one grandchild and two dogs.

I have known Maria for almost as long as she has worked at Mdzananda, fifteen years. In fact, many of Maria’s colleagues have been also been working at the project for close on the same amount of years.

Maria is a qualified Animal Welfare Assistant. Her work week sees her working in the hospital, surgery and consults room at the project as well as spending alternate afternoons a week on mobile clinics.

It is always a pleasure to spend time with Maria when she is on duty in the consults room.  She is very confident and calm in her manner and makes the task of consulting with owners, to determine the reason for them bringing their animal to the clinic, seem easy and effortless.

Her fifteen plus years of experience means that Maria knows when to escalate the urgency of a case, ensure fast admission to hospital of a very sick animal or request advice from Mdzananda’s permanent veterinarian.

Although Maria says she enjoys interacting with the public, she says she enjoys working in surgery the most. For most, surgery would seem to be the most stressful place to work, with high veterinary standards and strict protocols needing to be maintained and followed at all times to ensure that the animals placed in the care and trust of Mdzananda are safety returned to their owners.

Maria finds working on the regular mobile clinics which go out into the community of Khayelitsha twice a day every day of the week the most challenging. The mobiles seek to reach those pet owners who do not have the ways and means of reaching the permanent clinic or whose animals are not well enough to leave home. The African sun can be relentless, often times making mobile work overbearingly hot.

From Maria’s point of view, the majority of cases dealt with by the project are victims of motor vehicle accidents and biliary. Many dogs and cats are hit by cars every day on the busy streets of Khayelitsha due to the fact that the majority of residents do not have enclosed yards.

The heat of summer escalates the problems of fleas and ticks and this, together with the lack of humane education, results in many dogs contracting biliary. As Maria explains, if caught soon enough, they can live through it but depending on the overall health of the dog prior to falling ill, the animals’ constitution has a lot to do with whether they are able to overcome the disease or not.

I asked Maria what she thought the biggest difference the project’s presence has made to the residents of Khayelitsha. The permanent provision of veterinary services has made the biggest difference according to Maria who says that people are more compassionate and more caring.

As we end our conversation, AJ, one of the project’s resident dogs, wakes up from a slumber and ambles over to Maria for some cuddling and love.


For more information about our project work in South Africa, visit our Cape Town project page.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project