FROM GANG VIOLENCE TO ‘TIN CAN TOWNS’ – the ARO Wheels Keep Turning…

With the recent spate of gang violence in and around Cape Town, one cannot help but think of how fearful life must be for those affected by the violence. Not only do residents live in constant fear for their lives, children are being deprived of an education (as schools cannot open their doors), but the animals are suffering too.

Having worked in many gang stricken communities and hearing first hand from staff members who reside in these areas, the situation is dire, and the services of animal welfare are crucial to the well-being of the animals living in these areas.

As much as the community has had to come to a standstill, so have the services of our mobile clinics. We simply cannot risk the lives of our staff. The sad reality is that we are providing a service to these communities to benefit them; however, our mobile clinic staffs are threatened weekly and on occasions this has resulted in robberies at knife point.

One only has to read my blog about ARO servicing the Manenberg community to understand how vital our role within the many unfortunate and indigent communities is. The clinics in Manenberg were a great success – until now and by working with the Manenberg Pets Project, we ensured that community members got involved and in return were remunerated with the opportunity to learn compassion and various career enhancing skills.

Unfortunately, our clinics have not been able to return to the Manenberg area as yet, but as soon as the situation resolves itself, our services will be continued.

On a positive note, we have joined forces with the Animal Rescue Team, Tin Can Town and the Dancers Love Dogs project to complete a sterilisation drive in Blikkiesdorp, a relocation camp made-up of corrugated iron shacks in the Delft area.

The Tin Can Town ladies have been doing a wonderful job coordinating animals to be collected for sterilisation, our van then goes into Blikkiesdorp on a Monday and Tuesday to collect the animals for sterilisation. Each of the animals that come in for sterilisation are given a full vet check, and then returned to their owners on Thursday.

To date we have sterilised 42 animals from Blikkiesdorp. In addition to this, our hospital team continues with sterilisations that are brought in daily from our fleet of mobile clinics.

So all in all a big ‘paws up’ to our locum veterinarian, Dr Pickard and her hospital team.

Let’s hope and pray that we can soon once again take ARO to the communities that need us most.

Until next time,

Jess

ARO staff members teaching the children of Blikkiesdorp responsible pet ownership

ARO staff members teaching the children of Blikkiesdorp responsible pet ownership

Manenberg residents wait patiently to have their pets seen to by the ARO Mobile Clinic

Manenberg residents wait patiently to have their pets seen to by the ARO Mobile Clinic

Blikkiesdorp

Blikkiesdorp

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Training & Socialising your Pet

Working in the animal welfare sector and having acquired a new member to my ‘anifamily’, I felt it necessary to discuss the importance of training your pets and them being well socialised. The first year of your pets life, best described as their formative stage is paramount, what you do now to reinforce good behaviour, will positively affect your pet’s behaviour for life.

Our pets go through a series of developmental stages before becoming an adult, and just like children, require assistance and guidance to get there, hence the reason for my blog today.

From a young age (after having their first vaccinations), it is very important for your pet to develop social skills. It will assist them to respond positively to a variety of social situations, from meeting other pets in the park, to the way that they re-act to friends, family  – even strangers.

Early socialisation ensures your that pet will grow up to be a friendly and well behaved member of society! The following events and situations can assist your pet, especially a puppy with socialisation:

  • Have friends over to meet the puppy, include people of all ages, from children to adults. Be sure to supervise at all times.
  • Invite friendly, vaccinated dogs over for a play date, once your pet is comfortable with other animals, take him or her to visit them at their homes.
  • Take your pet to the park or beach and other environments where he or she will encounter crowds and bustling activity.
  • If practicable, take your pet for frequent trips in the car.
  • Introduce your puppy to foreign objects and sounds. e.g.: black bags, boxes, vacuum cleaners etc. When introducing loud sounds, start from a distance and gradually bring the sound closer
  • Train and accustom your puppy to walking on a lead or with a harness and be sure to use a comfortable collar.
  • When sitting with your puppy or kitten, inspect your pet, ensure they are comfortable with you clipping their nails, being brushed or bathed, check gums, teeth and ears to ensure your pets health.

The above list is only a guideline; feel free to introduce your pets to other situations and objects, which they will need to be comfortable around in your home. Remember safety first!

Most importantly, ensure your pet is comfortable at all times; never continue should your pet become frightened or distressed. DO NOT PUT IT OFF; starting from a young age is paramount to a happy and long future with your pet.

My new member, Jameson, is doing extremely well with his socialisation skills; here he is pictured with his new best friend, Zeena!

Until next time,

Jess & JamesonImage

PETS IN CAGES

A friend of mine recently received a hamster from her boyfriend, accompanied by a huge bouquet of red roses. “how adorable, it is the cutest gift ever!” However, over the years at ARO, we have come to see that this elated and warm fuzzy feeling is very much a temporary one and the novelty of owning this pet very quickly wears off.

2 – 3 months later, when the reality of cleaning, feeding and providing the hamster (or any other caged animal) with love and attention sets in, the pet very quickly becomes a nuisance and an escape route or alternate home is looked for.

All one needs to do is browse the likes of Gumtree, OLX, or other online classifieds and see the endless amount of ‘unwanted’ ‘free to a good home’ advertisements.

ARO encourages responsible pet care and prefers those who purchase caged pets to “see it through”, but we also realise that once the novelty has worn off, it is sometimes best to get the animal “out of there”…..

Many small caged pets have come to ARO like this.

Please educate both parents and friends about the responsibility of owning ANY pet before making the commitment.

Until next time,

Jess

ARO rescued rabbits - rabbits need space, do not place them in cages

ARO rescued rabbits – rabbits need space, do not place them in cages

Blanket Appeal

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Blankets given in goodie bags during our Sterilisation Campaign in Honour of Mandela Day 2012

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Blankets given in goodie bags during our Sterilisation Campaign in Honour of Mandela Day 2012

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Blankets are used extensively during our MASU sterilisation trips. They are needed to ensure the animals are kept warm when coming round from anesthetic.

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Each animal that receives treatment in our hospital is provided with a blanket in their kennel.

A chill in the air and rainy afternoons, winter is on its way. The ARO can house up to 65 animals per day. Each animal that comes into our care needs to be fed, have proper shelter, attention and love. With the winter months ahead of us we require additional food to ensure the animals keep warm, because their bodies are burning additional energy to keep warm; all animals require at least a half a cup of food extra per day.

Our need for cat and dog food remains a priority. To date we use about half a ton of pet food per month; this rate is continuously increasing. Therefore we rely greatly on the generosity of the public and the donations we receive.

With the recent spate of cold and wet weather; the need for blankets remains critical at the Animal Rescue Organisation (ARO). We are appealing to the public to please donate blankets to ARO. Preferably fleece blankets as they dry quickly in this weather.

We encourage the public as well as corporates to challenge thier staff and contribute toward this worthy dirve. Donations can be dropped at our Charity Shops – 51 Main Road, Bergvliet 021-7157525;  Belmont Rd, Kalk Bay 021-7881195 and 16 Voortrekker Rd, Bellville  021-9480773 or alternatively contact Julia Green at our offices on 021 396 5511 to arrange for a collection.

Please share this post with all your animal loving friends, and together we can make winter a little brighter!

Until next time,

Jess

The Importance of Tick & Flea Treatment

It’s not unusual for neglected animals to arrive at either our Mobile Clinics or Veterinary Hospital infested with ticks and fleas and in urgent need of internal as well as external parasite control.  Treating animals for ticks and fleas is a vital part of responsible and caring pet ownership. Unfortunately, all too often pet owners are not properly educated about the correct products to use and procedures to follow.  This can have dire consequences.

‘Ballie’, a dog that was recently seen at our Manenberg Clinic is a perfect example. His owner had doused him with paraffin and then lathered oil all over his body. This resulted in the skin being burnt and badly inflamed. He was subsequently admitted to our hospital where he received treatment for his condition and had to be bathed several times to eliminate the paraffin and oil contamination.

Although this was not intentional cruelty, it caused ‘Ballie’ much avoidable pain and suffering.

His owner has since been taught how to safely and effectively control fleas and ticks on his dog. ‘Ballie’ is one of many sad cases that we see on a daily basis and his case serves to highlight the importance of educating pet owners on safe ways and means of taking proper care of their pets. It also highlights the vital role that Mobile Clinics perform within the communities.

TREATING AND PREVENTING TICKS AND FLEAS ON YOUR PETS

  • At the first sign of a flea, or before the first sign of a flea, apply a veterinary approved tick and/or flea treatment eg Capstar, Frontline, Revolution, Advantix, Advantage, Fiprotec and wait for the product to take effect. Most of the products last for about 4 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the initial infestation.
  • Your pet is not the only source or host of ticks and fleas. Any eggs that were deposited in your carpets, bedding or around your garden, will hatch and become adults.  It is therefore important that you treat not only your pet but the bedding and sleeping area as well.
  • To ensure your pets and home are tick and flea free, it is vital that you repeat the above steps monthly. There is no “Silver Bullet” solution and a disciplined, holistic strategy is necessary.

Although ticks and fleas are more prevalent during summer, it is still necessary to provide tick and flea treatment during the winter months.

In conclusion, if you are struggling to curb the tick and flea infestation, please visit your veterinarian or nearest vet shop for professional advice and do not take matters into your own hands without professional guidance. Never use swimming pool chlorine (often called poor man’s Frontline), Jeyes Fluid, motor car oil or any other accelerant on your pet. It could have fatal consequences.

Until next time,

Jess

Taking ARO to Manenberg

Manenberg, one of the many areas where gangs and violence is rife.  Along with these social challenges, there are an ever increasing number of pets and animals in the area.  In order to address the health of these animals, the Animal Rescue Organisation has assigned one mobile clinic every second Tuesday of the month. Here our mobile clinics will provide basic primary veterinary services such as:

  • Dipping against Mange and other skin diseases
  • Deworming
  • Diagnosis of wounds and diseases requiring hospital treatments eg: Parvo Virus, Biliary (Tick Fever)
  • Nutritional Advice
  • Vaccination
  • The clinics also manage the bookings and collections of animals for sterilisation which is done at our hospital.

Yesterday, I was very fortunate to be a part of the opening for these clinics that will be taking place at the Manenberg People’s Centre. Joined by the Manenberg Pets Project, AWS Phillipi and CoGH SPCA the opening was a great success.

Over 60 dogs were treated, 13 brought in for sterilisation and 9 animals surrendered / unwanted. The support and participation of the community was fantastic, and very well received. Among the many pets treated, it was apparent that Pitbulls are the preferred breed within Manenberg.

Despite a couple of serious cases of neglect, the overall condition of the pets in the area was satisfactory. Education is key in ensuring the continued care for all animals in the area. The support of the Manenberg People’s Centre is greatly appreciated and will ensure that education is continued after our clinics have left.

Our mobile clinic will return to the Manenberg People’s Centre on Tuesday 14 May 2013 from 10 – 12, and we hope it is as well received as yesterdays clinic.

Keep reading our blog for the latest updates.

Until next time,

Jess

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5 FREEDOMS

ImageAny pet owner or individual working within the animal welfare sector, aims to ensure that all animals are entitled to the 5 Freedoms.

  1. FREEDOM FROM HUNGER AND THIRST
  2. FREEDOM FROM PAIN, INJURY AND DISEASE
  3. FREEDOM FROM DISCOMFORT (providing a suitable environment)
  4. FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND DISTRESS
  5. FREEDOM TO EXPRESS NORMAL BEHAVIOUR

Like humans, various factors can affect the way an animal feels, both mentally and physically. The 5 Freedoms are there to remind us that we are caring for sentient beings. When next you come across an abused animal or even your own pet, take a moment to assess their quality of life. Is your pet comfortable and protected from the weather? Is he or she fed an adequate amount of food and have readily access to fresh, clean water?  Are you able to provide the necessary care should your pet become ill or injured? Do you spend time with your pet? Does your garden provide adequate space for your pet to exercise and perform natural behaviors?

The last point mentioned above brings me back to circus animals, and the very relevant issues they are facing. Being en-caged or kept in small enclosures is not normal for animals, especially wild animals. Having watched video footage taken of circus animals, the stress, fear and anxiety is clearly visible in their actions and behaviors. Elephants rocking from side to side and being chained; tigers enclosed in small cages and then having to travel long distances from town to town. Wild animals belong in the wild, please don’t support animals in circuses.

So as you can see, all animals – domestic and wild have specific needs in order to remain happy and content. When making a decision to get a pet, ensure that you are able to provide the 5 Freedoms before taking on the responsibility.

Until next time,

Jess

Reality Check

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Every so often we find ourselves asking, “Are we really making enough of a positive difference? “The answer to this frequently asked question by almost everyone involved with animal welfare is yes and I am absolutely certain that if animals could talk they would agree that despite the seemingly insurmountable odds together we can and do make a difference to the lives of so many otherwise unfortunate animals – even if it means one dog at a time because to that dog, we mean the world.  We represent hope!

Today we were once again given a stark reminder of the reason for our existence and incredible contribution that everyone at Animal Rescue Organisation makes when all of our hard work and tireless efforts at winning the hearts and minds of our beneficiary community was rewarded by the kindly deed of a local farm worker who because he has faith and confidence in what we do decided to bring us his neighbours neglected and abandoned dog and litter of young puppies all yelping for her attention and trying to suckle on her already visibly over-taxed body.

The gentleman who had brought her in from one of the nearby farms explained that it was his neighbour’s dog; however, the neighbour had moved and simply abandoned his pet and her puppies to an unimaginable fate…

Despite the desperate case that we were faced with, it undoubtedly proved that we are making a difference as this caring individual went out of his way to bring the mother with her pups to our clinic.

With the Cape’s cold, wet winter months fast approaching, many township animals are struggling to survive and cope leaving it up to us and our allies to alleviate their plight and properly fulfill our rescue mandate but because the scale of the challenge is so big we will never be able to single-handedly win the day.

As we receive absolutely NO government funding our ability to continue performing miracles day after day is dependent on your continued support, understanding and generosity for which we are so grateful but now more than ever we need to appeal for your continued support and as, generosity.

So, please support our events, arrange an affordable monthly debit order, donate via sms, place your small change in our collection tins or if you prefer, give a gift in kind… no matter how small the gesture it makes a BIG difference to the lives of those that would otherwise have no choice and who have no voice to express their dire plight..