“There is a myth that people in townships do not care for their pets. We have a different opinion. Anyone who visits our clinic has the pleasure of meeting owners who adore their pets,” says Marcelle van Zyl of the Mdzananda Animal Clinic – the only permanent, veterinary council registered facility in Khayelitsha, outside of Cape Town.
No one is sure just how many pets there are in Khayelitsha, but it estimated that there is a dog and cat for every six people – a staggering 160,000 companion animals with no easy access to vet care.
The clinic was established 17 years ago. They provide consultations, surgery, hospitalisation, x-rays and care for sick and injured animals, primarily dogs and cats. Apart from the permanent clinic, mobile clinics run each weekday afternoon in order to serve areas too far from the clinic. Services are offered at a nominal fee as Marcelle explains: “We charge as little as R5 in some cases. These fees do not cover our costs, but it does encourage responsible pet ownership, as owners understand that their pets have value.”
Over time, trust has been established between the community and the clinic. Junica, the owner of a cross breed dog named Lucky, came home to find her dog frothing at the mouth and shaking from head to toe. Frantically, she called the clinic, but unfortunately they had closed for the day. Due to extreme weather conditions, the team was not able to send anyone out to assist.Undeterred, project manager Jane Levinson suspected that the dog had been poisoned. She talked Junica through the appropriate treatment that she could manage at home. Jane let Junica know her worst fear – that Lucky was unlikely to make it through the night. The next morning, Junica arrived at the clinic with Lucky. They had made it through the night. The vets took over and Lucky went on to make a full recovery.
This is just one example of the love that the community in Khayelitsha has for their pets. In the future, they would like to expand with an educational programme, which would cost in the region of R50 000.
Lucky on cage rest at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic Khayelitsha
The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is funded by individual donations, IFAW (International Fund of Animal Welfare) since 2003 and Dogs Trust UK since 2012.