CLAW’s open mobile clinic helps animals in need

Dr Eric Mimbi, a CLAW vet, with one of the clinic patients and members of the township community the mobile clinic serves. On a recent visit to Community Led Animal Welfare, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s partner in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was lucky to be able to spend time with director Cora Bailey and Eric Mimbi, a veterinarian who came to South Africa as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Driving around with Cora quickly showed me that her mission is not only helping animals in need, but also people. Everyone knows her car and starts waving and greeting, when they recognise who is driving by. On our way to rescue two abandoned puppies from illegal goldmining fields we stopped to deliver a food donation to a sick woman in need of help and Cora’s phone never stopped ringing from emergency calls of all sorts.

Another day I accompanied Eric and his assistant doing community outreach. The “clinic” times are known to the people so they line up early with dogs and cats that need treatment or vaccination – all means of transportation are used to carry pets including shopping carts and wheel barrows.

Eric quickly sets up a small table under a shady tree, spreads out his medical equipment and starts treating one animal after the other. Some are seriously ill so they need to be taken back to the CLAW facility at Durban Deep for further treatment – a shock to their owners, who often won’t be able to visit their beloved pets and worry if they will ever see them again.

When I was there a young man brought a very sweet but weak puppy. Eric diagnosed him with parvovirus, and broke the diagnosis that there is only a 50 percent chance of survival from this disease.

The owner was devastated, and I felt really sorry.

However, weeks later I heard that the puppy made it and was back home. What a relief, but also a painful lesson for the owner about the importance of vaccinations.

After many busy hours in the open air clinic we returned to “headquarters” with six dogs in the van needing immediate treatment.

 A young community member who brought a dog to the open clinic.

The IFAW-funded CLAW clinic is situated in Durban Deep at the edge of Soweto – Johannesburg’s largest township. Soweto used to be world-famous for harsh living conditions as a result of the Apartheid regime but it also became a symbol for the resistance against Apartheid after the student uprisings of 1976.

Twenty-five years ago Cora saw that there were a lot of animals in need of help in Soweto and started taking care of them. Then she met a like-minded fellow and founded CLAW with him. What started as a private initiative has developed into a busy animal clinic and shelter which also provides mobile veterinary services to the communities.

For me this visit was inspiring and touching. I truly admire the CLAW staff who give everything to help the dogs and cats of the people of Soweto. They work under harsh conditions in a dangerous environment and never stop. People like them make this world a better place.


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