Written by Katja Herr
Their big hearts, stinky farts, total loyalty and funny faces, strange sleeping positions, taking over beds and couches and the endless love and best kissers ever. “Once a Staffie, always a Staffie!” We simply love and support this breed and will do everything we can to help them.
After all, we are the humans and we need to help the innocent and misunderstood.
It began with an adoption
It all began with adopting a rescue Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffie). It was then that we realised that this breed needed a lot of support in any possible way, especially when it came to caring for them correctly and rehoming.
We started with networking them. This grew into a Facebook page in 2012 where we could share posts from all over South Africa. We followed and joined as many rescue organisations and animal welfare pages and groups as we could in order to find Staffies in need.
We are an entirely volunteer-run organisation and all funding comes from donations.
In 2017 alone, we rehomed over 100 Staffies and, as of the end of November 2017, we’re absolutely flooded with dogs looking for new homes. With holiday season upon us (people often dump their dogs then) and all our kennels full with often two or three dogs to a run –which increases our kennelling costs – we are all a bit “broken”.
Staffordshire Rescue South Africa aims to create awareness of the breed’s needs so that they’re properly cared for, which would reduce surrenders and improve adoption success rates.
A Staffie needs his human as it needs air to breathe
Our way forward with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is education. So many are surrendered because the owner hasn’t understood the breed and what it needs, which leads to problems and, eventually, giving the dog up.
We want to create awareness that this breed comes with lots more than a big heart if they’re trained from puppy age with puppy and socialisation classes. These classes and the positive upbringing of a puppy between eight weeks to eight months are critical for a Staffie’s development. They need plenty of quality time and not to be locked in the yard as a pretty feature and ignored – that’s when the problems come in later.
Training (for people and dogs!), positive reinforcement, and lots of exercise and mental stimulation such as playtime and challenges like hide ‘n’ seek or tug-of-war; behind each game is a reason. We endeavour to lend our support in building the relationship and the bond with the family.
Whenever we have the chance, we educate. And we receive the most amazing feedback if the effort is made. Happy Staffie, happy owner!
Our focus is the dog and only the dog; we will do what is needed in the best interests of that dog. This means that a very strict system has to be put in place.
Step one is the stringent adoption application form that has to be completed in order to move on to step two. If we feel the people are a match, we move on to step two: home checks. If the home gets approved, only then can the “Stafford of the heart” be met by the new family.
There are several reasons we do things this way. First and foremost, we need to protect the dog itself from potential bad owners; we also want to avoid stressing and confusing it by introducing it to many different people. It’s also done to avoid disappointing people in the event that they may not be approved, for example, if the property isn’t suitable (low walls, not being enclosed, etc.).
Once a dog is adopted, we make use of behaviourists if there’s an existing dog at the new home to ensure it will be a good match. Several “meet ‘n’ greets” are set up in order to do a slow introduction.
We never want to just “dump” the dog in front of the existing family dog as it may not be impressed with the new situation. This could lead to fights and an adoption disaster.
All in all, the adoption process is pretty time-consuming and some people might not understand it. But we want to ensure that the home chosen is the best possible home for the specific dog and avoid returns to kennels.
Not all the Staffies we rehome are abandoned or unloved. In fact, more often the dog is a much-loved family member and a sudden change in personal circumstances is the reason behind giving up their beloved fur child. We find that, often, many tears are shed when the dog leaves for his or her new home. This is another reason why we have our procedure – to ensure that the family who is surrendering the dog knows it is going to the best possible home.
Assuming the dog isn’t rescued from bad circumstances, we see what we can do to help rather than just rehoming. When we’re approached by families trying to find a new home for their Staffie, we first try to figure out of there is any chance that the dog can be kept. We’d like to help owners to hold on to their dogs rather than surrender them, and work with them in order to keep their dogs happy and stimulated.
Sometimes it simply cannot be solved; that’s when a new home needs to be found for the dog to get a new and better life.
We survive with donations and adoption fees
For many years, we used our own money (and still do) in order to help Staffies in SA. But to do more without bankrupting ourselves we needed to raise funds, and so we founded a Non-profit Company (NPC 2016/428858/08).
With our network of the MOST AMAZING FOLLOWERS AND SUPPORTERS, our call for help is being heard. We are endlessly thankful for the support we receive when we reach out.
We survive with donations and adoption fees; at the end of each month, the sight of our bank account usually freaks us out with vet bills and kennel fees due. We often have to jump in and pay ourselves – we don’t want to be unfair to the wonderful people supporting our work with rescue rates, and we cannot give up on the Staffies.
We could not be more grateful for the support we receive and believe that there are more people who will help.
A place of our own
We were so lucky that we could open our own little rehabilitation camp on a private farm outside Cape Town, thanks to a very kind, animal-loving family who offered us a piece of their land so we could build some runs. With donations, we put up a few runs – and the Staffies began pouring in.
It’s so great to be able to help straight away – to not have to stress about unwanted dogs being given away to the wrong people, or neglected dogs staying where they are. We could just take them in, and go step by step – getting their health in order, feeding them, loving them and finding them forever homes.
At the time of publishing the article, the kennels have not even been 100% completed and we’re already full! And we get calls, mails, and messages all the time.
We’re working on more kennels and desperately need more support. The more help we get, the more help we can give!
Our next milestone is…
We want to have two open Sunday mornings at our kennels in order to give our supporters a chance to visit to see how all is going our side and where their donations ended up, or to join us for a cup of tea or coffee. They could give some TLC to our kennel guests – taking them for a walk, playing ball, or just sitting with them and giving them love; or simple things like changing the water in the kennel and making their beds.
It is planned to happen on a Sunday morning and we are so excited about it that we could “platz”!
The biggest reward
The most amazing happy Staffie smile; in his or her new home!
The people behind the scenes
Staffordshire Rescue SA is run by volunteers, myself, Michelle and Etienne Botes, Lauren Mallet, Helia Voster and Megan van Wyngard – and we all remind each other constantly why we do what we do. Part of the madness are our amazing kennel ladies, Kim Parker and Candice, and plot owners Vanessa and Wayne Van Wyk for the Cape Town kennels.
Dedicated volunteers always welcome
No matter your age, as long your heart is in the right spot you are welcome and needed – and it’s not all kennel-based. We need volunteers for the following duties:
- Home checks in all areas
- Hands-on work with our adoption process, including admin work
- Someone to answer our emails
- We desperately need to create our website and have someone to service/administrate it
- Do follow-up visits and calls on adopted Staffies
- Regularly come and work with and love our Staffies in kennels
Note: We are all volunteers and unable to pay salaries; you’d need to be prepared to use your own petrol and airtime/data bundle to help the Staffies.
Please support our work with your contribution, no matter how big or small; it really makes a difference.
We always need funds, which can be donated to:
- First National Bank SA
- Account name: Staffordshire Terrier Rescue SA
- Current Account number: 62 65 03 20 478
- Branch Code: 250-255 (global)
Wish list for our kennels
- wooden OR metal poles
- bedding, cushions, carpets
- fluffy blankets
- buckets, big or small
- plastic shells (for doggie pools)
- toys for dogs
- yummy treats and dog food
- flea treatment, deworming treatment (due to breed, please ask us for brand)
- plants or trees
- your time, love, and dedication!
For more information, please email email@example.com or WhatsApp on 072 047 6222, and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StaffordshireTerrierRescueSouthAfrica/.