Taking care of animals, taking care of yourself

“The way in which people from disadvantaged communities love and care for their pets can put any hotshot living in the suburbs to shame,” says Cora Bailey, at the Community Led Animal Welfare (Claw) shelter in Roodepoort, Johannesburg, this week. In the background is the sound of chit-chat, laughter and yapping dogs.

The rationale behind Claw—founded in 1999—is to care for individuals within communities and, in turn, they can care for their animals.

With a group of trained vets, volunteers, animal activists and children who are passionate about their pets, Claw provides a holistic approach to animal care. Claw has established vegetable gardens and community members are provided with food, clothing and transport to hospices and hospitals. In addition, their pets are vaccinated, dewormed and treated for illnesses.

Claw runs a number of projects to provide solutions for both pets and pet owners, such as a kennel building project on October 6.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, an international pet food company, brought together 26 volunteers to join Claw in building 30 kennels. The kennels were donated to pet owners who regularly visited the shelter. One of those was Gontse Molao (10) from Matholoville township near Roodepoort, who takes care his family’s three dogs: Snoopy, Floppy and Bruno.

“I like dogs because they are cute and they keep me company,” said Gontse, who started looking after Bruno when he was five-years-old. “When I see that my dog is sick I take him to the vet and I give him medicine for his worms.”

Gontse lives with his grandmother, mother and siblings. His mother is unemployed and struggles to provide for the family. It’s hard for them to look after the dogs but they share anything to keep the animals well-fed and happy.

It was Gontse’s 21-year-old brother, Itumeleng Molao, who first introduced him to Claw. When Itumeleng was younger he took care of the family pets and worked as a volunteer. He passed on the responsibilities when his younger brother started developing an interest in nurturing their dogs.

Animal care is just one aspect of a well-rounded childhood for Gontse, who performs well at school and loves soccer. “I am proud of my brother,” says Itumeleng. “His actions show that if he can take care of his pets, he will become a good man in the community who is not ashamed of taking care of his own children. This is why we support this passion for dogs.” 

Claw is the flagship of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) community-led animal welfare programme that has been providing desperately needed veterinary services and animal care education to pet owners in some of the poorest communities since 1999. To get in touch with Claw contact Cora Bailey at [email protected] or at their offices on: 011 763 1638. Their emergency line is: 082 926 3627.

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