18th Feb, 2019

Left to right:  Thabo Makupula, Lunge Nojozi, Fagan Vollenhoven, Zola Ngcobani, Monwabisi Siswana, Salome Samuels, Simone van Rooyen, Rodney Msuthwana, Prescilla Diniso, Senior Vet. Dr Reuben Kotze with his daughter Eva.

Written by Karen de Klerk, Head of Fundraising & Communications

Way back in 1986, a small group of people decided to address the plight of suffering animals surviving within riot-torn townships across Cape Town. They had nothing at their disposal except a battered old van and a love of animals. This passion and commitment developed into a regular welfare service within impoverished communities known as the Voluntary Animal Rescue Organisation.

The Voluntary Animal Rescue, or VAR as it was fondly known, focused on building welfare services for sick and suffering animals and worked through the PDSA in Athlone. In 1995, VAR became known as the Animal Rescue Organisation, or ARO, and in 2003 the entire organisation moved into its present head office in Ottery. Governed by a Management Committee, ARO remains one of the most respected animal welfare organisations in the Western Cape. As a member of the Cape Animal Welfare Forum, the ARO regularly participates in City of Cape Town-funded sterilisation projects together with other Forum advocacy activities such as anti-fireworks and dog fighting campaigns.

ARO runs a fully equipped welfare hospital in Ottery that’s managed by full-time vet Dr Reuben Kotze. ARO also runs three busy mobile clinics that are used to reach out to the suffering animals within many indigent communities. 

The focus of ARO’s fieldwork remains the same, i.e. to deliver relief to sick and suffering animals. Primary health care and welfare is administered from mobile clinics by trained AWAs (Animal Welfare Assistants) who are registered with the South African Veterinary Council. Dipping against external parasites, deworming, and administering educational advice fall under the mobile clinics’ mandate, while more serious cases of wounds, injuries and sterilisation cases are transported to the ARO hospital to be seen by Dr Kotze and his team. 

Sterilisation is ARO’s main focus. Performed in the ARO hospital every day of the week, around 200 animals are sterilised monthly. ARO also concentrates on creating healthy pets within healthy homes, educating owners about the right choices when it comes to pet health and welfare and being able to provide a safety net when things go wrong. While ARO is not an adoption shelter, it does keep a few pets in foster care for adoption. Communities seen are only of the poorest, including Nyanga, Delft, Du Noon and many more.

On average, approximately 18,000 sick and suffering animals benefit from ARO annually. Like most NGOs, ARO depends on public funding in order to finance its work. It runs a full-time active fundraising department and is always looking for support. Donations of funds or gifts in kind are a critical part of ARO’s needs.

We encourage anyone with household goods or other saleable items to donate to ARO’s charity shops; contact ARO on 021 396 5511 or 082 836 5880 to arrange collection.

If you’d like to make a donation, our banking details are:

Animal Rescue Organisation


Branch code: 632005 

Account: 408 608 0569

For more information, please call Karen de Klerk, Head of Fundraising & Communications, on 021 396 5511, email or visit or follow them on Facebook