Mdzananda vet's perspective takes 180 degree turn in South Africa

It is always important to realise that the quality of life of the animal will only be determined by that of its owner. Photo © Blessing ChiriseriDr. Blessing Chiriseri, is a veterinarian with IFAW’s Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The clinic recently re-launched its mobile outreach clinic services to communities. Below. Dr. Blessing describes the new initiative. -- Lisa Cant-Haylett

Just over a year ago I finished vet school and moved to Cape Town to become part of the great Mdzananda team. Shortly after arrival I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of roaming pets in the township.

My initial reaction was probably what most people would have – that “No-one really cares for these poor animals”.

One year on, my perspective has taken a complete 180⁰ turn. 

Twelve months and thousands of animals later, has helped me to understand how much dedication there is from the Mdzananda team. However, the greatest example of care and love has been the countless numbers of people “young and old” pushing their pets in shopping carts from far and wide in search of help.

I have completely immersed myself in this beautiful interaction.

A few months back we took time to take a closer look at the then outreach program which was meant to serve the communities that were further away from the established Mdzananda structures.

This step back afforded us the opportunity to assess the impact we had had over the years and a lot seemed outdated and inadequate.

Shifts in lifestyle and the economics of the communities meant a lot required tailoring to better suit the different areas and particular household structures, particularly the times when people are at home and available to bring their dogs to mobile clinics.

The major aspect that required and still requires immediate and meticulous attention is education. The interaction with clients has revealed how little animal health care information these owners are equipped with. However, the community seems very keen to learn (a priceless tool).

Our new mobile outreach program is therefore a combination of specific days solely set aside for educating the communities and then satellite clinic days.

Our satellite clinics are simply an extension of our consultation rooms which means we are now able to properly treat some animals at these sites and to identify and admit patients needing hospital care back at Mdzananda HQ.

The methods we are going to use are entirely tailored to each area we will visit. The socio-economic situation of each household visited will be appraised and then given the utmost consideration. It is always important to realise that the quality of life of the animal will only be determined by that of its owner.

These are particularly exciting times for me and Mdzananda. We can only imagine the impact an outreach program like this is going to have on the pet population in this part of the continent.

In conclusion I must say, the first day of our re-launch was a great success, the team really showed a different but positive kind of enthusiasm and we intend to keep it that way for decades to come.

We are striving to make education Mdzananda’s long lasting legacy.


Learn more about IFAW efforts to help dogs and their owners in South Africa.

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