St Francis Animal Rescue volunteers (left to right): Anita Steynes Judnick, David Chandler Judnick, Matthew White, Kirsten White, Susan Rae Fox and Chrystelle Van Wyk
Written by Susan Rae Fox – Chairperson, St Francis Animal Rescue
It’s no secret the Eastern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Nestled alongside its coast is the charming seaside village of St Francis Bay. But behind the beautiful scenery lies the local township of Sea Vista, an impoverished community of people facing a daily struggle to survive. Along with this come thousands of animals in dire need of help. That’s where the dedicated volunteers of St Francis Animal Rescue come in.
Volunteers to the rescue
We are a group of volunteers living in St Francis Bay who are motivated by a desire to improve the health and quality of life of the cats and dogs in our local township of Sea Vista. Families trapped in poverty and joblessness often find it difficult to feed themselves, let alone their animals.
St Francis Animal Rescue has been operating in Sea Vista for four years, and we’re proud to have made significant changes in the attitudes and behaviour of the residents of this township towards their cats and dogs.
Open Your Eyes & Sterilise
Our sterilisation campaign – Open Your Eyes & Sterilise – is proving hugely successful. We’ve been able to spay and neuter approximately six adult cats and dogs every week.
We work in collaboration with local veterinarians – Dr Nerine Botha from Aloe Vet in St Francis Bay and Dr Annelise Barker from the Humansdorp Veterinary Clinic. Together, we’ve sterilised upwards of 300 dogs and 100 or so cats (many of which are feral).
Our Feeding Programme
As our non-profit has grown in size and capability, we’ve extended our mission to include providing subsidised nutritious food for puppies, kittens, cats and dogs in Sea Vista.
Over time we’ve managed to educate pet owners to stop feeding the porridge and table scraps that create malnutrition, and we’re proud to claim that most dogs and cats now eat nourishing, good-quality pellets. Not believing in hand-outs, we provide plastic bags containing 3 x 75g cups of pellets to nine participating Spaza Stores in Sea Vista at R4.00 per bag. Shop owners sell these to pet owners for an affordable R5.00 – thus ensuring that most families are able to feed their pets good-quality food.
We make no profit on these sales and our monthly food bills are very high, but through this feeding programme we’ve seen a remarkable change in the health and condition of the dogs and cats visiting our outreach every week.
Our Weekly Outreach
Every Thursday afternoon, St Francis Animal Rescue Volunteers gather for an outreach in Sea Vista on land opposite this settlement. Cat and dog owners, mostly young children but also some adults, bring their pets to be dewormed, sprayed for fleas and ticks, and fed as much food and water as they can consume. Each owner receives a bag of dog or cat food for each of the pets they own.
At every outreach we persuade pet owners to sterilise their pets for free, and those willing do so and sign permission slips, allowing us to perform this procedure.
On the first Thursday of the month, 20 puppies are vaccinated by our local vet against life-threatening diseases, including Canine Parvovirus, Biliary and Canine Distemper. Kittens are vaccinated for Rabies. We also perform a Rabies Injection outreach annually for all animals in the township. (Rabies is endemic in the Eastern Cape.)
Passionate and committed cat lover Jodi Kruger is St Francis Animal Rescue’s “Cat Lady”, and it falls to her to manage our Feral Cat “Trap, Neuter and Return” (TNR) programme. All healthy cats are sterilised, vaccinated for rabies, dewormed, sprayed for fleas and ticks, and ear-tipped to identify them as spayed or neutered.
Healthy, trapped kittens are fostered by Jodi and her group of volunteers until they’re tame and can be successfully adopted into loving homes.
We’ve just launched a dog-training programme with a local, highly respected dog trainer, Philip Van Heerden. He’ll be teaching children and their dogs basic commands and working towards enhancing the respect, trust and love between humans and their animals.
We believe that, by changing the way young children treat animals, we can create a new generation of animal lovers and help to make the world a better place.
Our greatest reward lies in removing unwanted, neglected, sick, malnourished or ill-treated dogs, pups and kittens from Sea Vista and putting them into foster care, where we “bring them back to life” until we can have them adopted into loving homes.
We’ve lost count of the number of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens we’ve rehomed over the years, but we get enormous fulfilment from watching these animals discover love, comfort, good food, safety and fun. In fact, along with sterilisation, this is probably the part of animal rescue we love the most.
Raising funds and how you can help
St Francis Animal Rescue organisation is entirely funded by donations. We’re fortunate to have a small team of fundraisers who work consistently to raise money to enable our charity to perform our vital work. We are, without doubt, the most active charity in St Francis, and use walks, talks, bake sales, golf days, concerts, dog shows, fashion shows, art exhibitions, wellness expos – you name it! – to create awareness of what we do and encourage support from local animal lovers.
Our monthly expenses are in the region of R40,000 – sometimes more – and include vet expenditure (sterilisations and medical cases); outreach medicines, including vaccines, de-wormers and spray for fleas and ticks; food purchases and incidentals, including kennels, cat traps, collars and leads and printing costs for fundraiser promotions.
We’re currently promoting our Have a Heart Fund, whereby animal lovers donate R100 per month into our bank account, to help our charity become more sustainable.
We have about 70 members so far – but we’re a long way from our desired membership of 400.
For those who wish to support our cause, please make your donation to:
St Francis Animal Rescue
Standard Bank Branch no: 050015
Business Savings Account
Account no: 186532814
We’re most grateful – as are the cats and dogs in Sea Vista – for any help you may be able to offer.
For more information, please contact St Francis Animal Rescue on 083 289 1452, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit their website at www.stfrancisanimalrescue.org and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StFrancisAnimalRescue/
The Story of Sophie – rescued by St Francis Animal Rescue
Sophie was brought to a St Francis Animal Rescue outreach by the neighbour of the man who owned her; a known drug addict with a history of abusing animals.
The kind neighbour was extremely concerned and said the gentle tricolour dog needed urgent attention because she couldn’t walk after being beaten by her owner. What’s more, Sophie’s ears had been cut off, her front right leg was badly fractured, and she had a hernia from being repeatedly kicked. She was understandably agitated and frightened, and very cowed.
We rushed Sophie to Dr Annelise Barker from the Humansdorp Veterinary Practice, where she was treated for worms, fleas and ticks and vaccinated. She was sedated in order to x-ray her leg and then a splint was applied, together with a strong pain-killer and an antibiotic injection.
Dr Barker kindly kept Sophie overnight until we could get her into foster care the next day. One of our own volunteers, Fran Grobbelaar, fostered Sophie for a week.
During those seven days, Sophie discovered her first taste of love, comfort, good food, safety and care. She began to relax and her sweet personality started emerging.
At the end of that time we had a request from a family in East London who wanted to adopt our little rescue. Glynn Nicholson, her daughter and friend welcomed Sophie into their wonderful, dog-loving home and made her part of their family – and the rest, as they say, is history.