Written by Mandy Pollock – Administration Manager/Treasurer, Harrismith Animal Shelter, Free State
Professional photography by Jaco Sapet-Nel
The terrified brown dog was chained to the railing alongside the busy N3 highway near Harrismith, Free State, cars rushing by while he stood shaking, bewildered and alone.
Help is at hand
On the 14th of July 2018, at around 17h00, one of our volunteer workers, Adriana Baldock, from the Harrismith Animal Shelter (HAS), received a call from a concerned Harrismith resident who’d spotted the abandoned dog.
Adriana and her husband, Roes, immediately headed out, driving along the N3 until they came upon the petrified animal. The chain around his neck was loosely looped over the steel railing; if he’d pulled hard enough, the chain would have come loose and he could have landed up under a moving vehicle.
He was so close to the traffic that every time a truck passed, his hair would be swept up and his eyes widened with fear.
July is mid-winter, and for the past week or two Harrismith’s night-time temperatures had dropped below -5° Celsius (23°F); one night it reached -12°C (10°F). Who knows how long he’d been there, but, had nobody alerted HAS, this poor boy would have certainly frozen to death by the next morning.
Safe and sound
Adriana and Roes met with Mandy at HAS and put Monty (as he’s now been named) into a kennel where he was settled in with some good food and a warm bed.
They networked Monty everywhere in an endeavour to trace his owner or someone who might have known where he belonged, in case he’d been stolen rather than abandoned. With absolutely no success, we concluded that he had been abandoned and we would find him a well-deserved loving home.
Monty was admitted to the local vet in Harrismith on the 17th of July 2018 for sterilisation, after which he was taken to a foster home where he’d be cared for until a suitable forever home could be found for him.
Living the life
Well, of course, it didn’t take very long! Monty’s story, with the shocking photo of him tied to the railing, was spread far and wide and touched many people.
An awesome lady, Sandy Hanbury from Howick in KwaZulu-Natal, was shown Monty’s story on Facebook and knew she had to give him a home.
Sandy drove all the way from Howick to Harrismith (a distance of over 200km) to fetch this amazing boy. Today, Monty is living the life he deserves. He has a family that absolutely adore him and he’ll be loved unconditionally – which is what every pet should experience.
MONTY AND ME
By Sandy Hanbury, Monty’s new owner
On Thursday the 19th of July, I joined some girlfriends for lunch and the topic of discussion became: “Have you seen the picture on Facebook of the poor dog who was tied to the barrier on the N3 near Harrismith?”. I hadn’t, but pretty soon my friend Natalie had found the post and showed us the image of the sad brown dog.
I’ll take him!
I’m not sure what happened, but my mind was just consumed by concern for this poor dog, and I just spat out the words: “I’ll take him!”
Natalie, whose family farms near Harrismith, knew who to contact, and she wasted no time sending a message to ask if the dog had found his owner or had a home to go to. And, of course, the answer came back that he hadn’t.
I drove home in a bit of a daze and delivered the news in a vague sort of way to my husband, who didn’t object. So, I started enquiring about possible lifts for him from Harrismith to Howick – a big ask. The next day, I continued to badger anyone and everyone I could think of but had no luck. Unable to concentrate at work, I simply packed up for the day, hopped into my car and drove up to Harrismith to fetch him.
My cousin, Charles Smith, lives in Harrismith and joined me to meet Monty, his fosters, and Helene from the Harrismith Animal Shelter. I immediately took a liking to him, and, to be honest, I think he would have liked anyone who’d give him attention. But we made quick friends and set off back to the farm in Howick.
Arriving home after dark, I suddenly realised that my own animals had not given their permission for this stranger to come and share my affections! What if he killed my cats? How would he fit in with our dogs?
My worries were short-lived, however. Our two dogs, 10-year-old Golden Retriever Noah and six-month-old Jack Russell Harley, invited him in with the biggest show of generosity and acceptance imaginable. They’ve been amazing. Naturally, the cats didn’t accept him with open arms, and he’s had to be guided on the “dos and don’ts” around them. But we will get there.
The privilege of knowing Monty
I wish that Monty could talk and tell us exactly what happened. He was in fair condition but has clearly known hunger by the way that he’s constantly searching for food. You can’t even open a wrapper without him coming to see what you have for him to eat! He is, understandably, nervous of cars and moves well away when you start the engine. He’s taken well to farm life and has an abundance of energy, so my plan is to start taking him to park runs and for jogs here on the farm.
This beautiful, fun-loving friend with his huge personality has made it easy for us to welcome him into our home. He’s so eager to please, very intelligent, learning fast and an all-round precious boy. I feel privileged to have been entrusted with this amazing and forgiving animal!
With so many people having been interested in his story, I started an Instagram page for him: mutt.monty (https://www.instagram.com/mutt.monty/). I hope others will be as warmed by his tale as I have been and will be encouraged to open their homes to some more furry friends in need.
About the Harrismith Animal Shelter
Harrismith Animal Shelter was founded in 2014, following the closure of the Harrismith SPCA. This small organisation is run entirely on donations and receives no funding or support from the local municipality. Although the community they serve is small, the need for a well-run shelter like this is great.
For more information, contact 083 739 3287, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Harrismith-Animal-Shelter-664333806997159/