Mother and pups saved from a storm water drain

Written by Linda Scarce, FORA (Friends of Rescued Animals)

Professional photography by Jaochim Bates Photography and Phoenix Artphotography

It’s lunchtime on Monday 14th August 2017 when in walk three young lads from Lewisham, Krugersdorp. They pass a storm water pipe on the way to and from school every day; the concrete pipe runs under a busy road and, inside, a mother dog and her pups have made their home. The pups are growing and starting to try and explore the world outside. The boys are concerned that mom and her pups are going to get hurt or run over but can’t do anything as she wants to bite them.

Lunch can wait

Off go Coreen, kennel hands James, Fredrick and Laston, and I – lunch can wait. We discover that not only was the pipe under a busy piece of road, it was also filthy, and half-filled with soil, plastic and broken bottles. The far end was pretty much blocked off – bar a small space that perhaps a pup could fit through but NOT mom. Clearly, this little family could not stay here.

In order to save them from their perilous situation, we’d need some supplies. A very kind gentleman, Wayne Vaudin, from Instrumech Engineering stopped and asked if he could bring us anything. He was soon back with a headlamp and a spade whilst I made a trip back to FORA for our drain “worm”, cable ties and some other needed stuff.

The drain worms

We quickly set to work, getting the drain worm to push through from the semi-blocked end to try and get mom and pups closer to the working end of the pipe; we also dug away at the soil and rubbish at our end.

It was quite a task. The three lads who’d called us, Andries, Thato and Philip, helped where they could while James, Fredrick and Laston dug, pushed, pulled and manoeuvred the drain worm, disappearing down under the road. More soil and rubbish was dug out; at one stage James, Frederick and I could disappear down the pipe without you knowing we were there!

One by one, James got hold of a pup and it was gently passed out to safe hands. By 16h00 James got hold of a squawking pup number four, with mom snapping inches from his face – PULL, PULL, PULL! to get him out.

Half an hour later, James had the fifth – and last – pup but, despite trying really hard and carefully to snag mom with the catch pole in the pipe, he just could NOT get her. It was a bittersweet moment when we had to leave without her.

With the five little brown-and-white pups safely in hand, we rewarded the three youngsters for their concern, help and caring with enough to buy themselves a bucket of KFC, then, filthy dirty, full of sand and exhausted, we headed back to FORA.

The mother dog was still out there

The pups were fed and settled in for the night and we went home to get cleaned up. We were all pretty hammered from digging, pushing, pulling and co-ordinating across the busy road – you’d think we would’ve slept like logs. But still, it wasn’t an easy night; I couldn’t rest knowing mom was out there and probably pining, her teats filling with milk, and her pups gone.

I phoned Cora Bailey of CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare) and asked if we could borrow her trap the next morning. Cora met us at the pipe and, after a quick check down the pipe with a torch, we were relieved to see that mom was still there.

The guys had a bit more digging to do to fit the trap in front of the pipe before Cora could set it up. Once everything was in place, we put two of the pups in a cage behind the trap, and moved away to wait and watch. It didn’t take long. In fact, within a few minutes, mom was in the trap – she’d headed straight for her pups.  

She’s a GOOD mom – although she’s thin, her pups are healthy and fat. Clearly she’d put her ALL in to them and then demonstrated what a good mom she is by stepping straight into the trap to get to her pups! Poor thing – as soon as she was next to her pups, the milk just started dripping from her teats.

One happy family

Back at FORA, the beautiful tricolour dog was united with the rest of her pups who were absolutely DELIGHTED to see her. At one stage, they were so excited that they all piled on top of her head! Nothing can beat the love of a mom.

While working with her, deworming, vaccinating and applying tick and flea treatment, we discovered that all her growling and snapping in the pipe was PURE defence of her pups while being scared and bewildered. In reality, she was easy to work with and showed NO aggression. She’s actually a lovely dog.

Mom – who we’ve named Kalesi – and her pups are safe at FORA now and she won’t have to have puppies in a drain pipe ever again. In fact, she won’t have to have puppies again!

Thank yous

Huge thanks go to the concerned youngsters, Andries, Philip and Thato, who made the effort to walk to FORA to seek help and stayed through the whole rescue (sorry to their moms for the state of their clothes!). And to Wayne Vaudin, who brought us a spade and a head lamp, and later a torch and some water when the head lamp’s battery croaked, and Cora Bailey for meeting us with the trap and helping us catch Mom. And, of course, to the fantastic FORA team, Coreen, James, Frederick and Laston – I am so proud of you!

Friends of Rescued Animals (FORA) is an animal shelter in Krugersdorp (Mogale City) in Gauteng Province. It was founded in 2003 and is home to over 400 dogs and 200 cats. The organisation works on the 3 “R” principle: to Rescue, Rehabilitate and Rehome as many animals as it can.