Pug Rescue South Africa

9th Mar, 2020

Written by Cheryl Gaw, President of Pug Rescue South Africa

Photos supplied by Pug Rescue South Africa and professional photographs by Merwelene van der Merwe Photography

Pugs, with their comical squashed faces and goofy smiles, are undeniably loveable and have become a very popular breed. But, tragically, as is usually the case with dog breeds, increased popularity comes with increased over- and in-breeding, neglect, abandonment, and abuse. That’s why, 11 years ago, Cheryl Gaw and her husband started Pug Rescue South Africa.

Pugs in peril

Pug Rescue SA started from our home in Morehill in Benoni. The number of Pugs needing help increased all the time. When the number of Pugs running around our residential home reached 19, my husband and I found ourselves at a crossroads as to whether or not we should continue rescuing Pugs, and if we did, we had to purchase a larger property. 

Well, of course the Pugs won, and we purchased a larger property in Agricultural Holdings. We had to do some major renovations to the house, so we placed our furniture in storage and moved from a luxurious house into a trailer home on the new property. 

We lived in the trailer for 15 awesome months, realising that generally we live with more than we need. We now offer sanctuary to an average of 185 rescued animals around the country on any given day. We’ve seen some horrendous cruelty with Pugs that have been brought into our sanctuary. With the help of an amazing veterinary support team, we’ve managed to give many of these Pugs a new life. Sadly, at times they’re in such a sad state medically that sending them to heaven is the kindest thing to do.

Pug Rescue SA is a registered animal welfare organisation where we rescue, rehabilitate, rehome and offer sanctuary to Pugs in need. During the past 11 years we’ve rescued more than 2,000 Pugs, with a large number of non-Pugs coming through our gates too.

Our most challenging rescue

Many dogs and some cats have received honorary Pug status at Pug Rescue SA, and our most challenging rescue was a Dachshund. 

Three years ago, my husband was travelling back from a Durban meeting by car as he had to bring a rescued Pug back with him. At the Engen Garage in Villiers he saw a lost-looking Dachshund, which he tried to catch without any success. The petrol attendant told him that she’d been left behind two months previously, and the overnight truckers were feeding her. A team of Pug Rescue SA volunteers and I went out to help her. 

We were parked between truckers and “ladies of the night”, with serious warnings from security that we were parked in a high-hijack area ringing in our ears. It took eight trips over three weeks from Benoni to Villiers (a distance of well over 100km each way). Once, we literally sat all night trying to get her into a trap. Many people thought we were crazy going to these lengths, as she was not even a Pug! We thought she was worth the effort. 

But, being a tenacious group of Pug Rescue SA girls, we eventually caught her. There was jubilation all around, including the service station staff and the “ladies of the night”. We named her “Assisi”.

She was taken to our vet, where she was sterilised, vaccinated and microchipped after having a thorough check. Today, she lives an awesome life in her new home in Benoni.

Thanda Inja Outreach

Thanda Inja (meaning “love the dog”) is the outreach initiative of Pug Rescue South Africa.

It was started after we met a young man who’d walked at least 15km in flip flops seeking help for his dog but had no funds to pay for veterinary care; we knew something needed to be done.

Thanda Inja is currently partnering with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and a private practice veterinarian to take veterinary care to the severely impoverished township of Daveyton every two weeks. 

Every second Tuesday of every month we pack three vehicles the night before and arrive early morning at an open field where there’s no running water, no ablutions and no electricity. We then use gazebos and set up a theatre and a clinic. We treat many sick animals and offer vaccinations and sterilisations on site. When we have sufficient dog and cat food, we offer supplement feeding. At the same time, we have a soup kitchen open for the owners of the sick animals to have a meal whilst they’re waiting.

We receive many requests to expand our offering into greater areas. Sadly, due to various constraints, we’re not able to offer this at present. Our vision is to build the Thanda Inja Animal Welfare Hospital and register our own mobile units. Once we have the hospital up and running, we’ll be able to expand our veterinary care offering to a broader base of communities in need. The hospital will operate as a non-profit hospital offering veterinary care to low and no-income households who need help with their pets. Sterilisation will be non-negotiable. Naturally, if we’re out in the field and livestock need assistance, we’ll offer this. No animal belonging to an impoverished individual will be left untreated.

How you can help Pug Rescue South Africa

To be able to continue with our Thanda Inja Project we need the support of the public. If a reader has a contact where we can do a presentation regarding our proposed hospital, we’d really appreciate that.

We also need funds to purchase the medication we require to help sick animals and, perhaps even more importantly, sterilise the dogs and cats. Our vision is to have communities with a reduced population of healthy, happy companion animals.

Help us continue offering sanctuary to our rescues by donating via:



Apply for a MySchool Card https://www.myschool.co.za/supporter/apply

For more information, contact Cheryl Gaw on 082 229 2644, email info@pugrescue.co.za, visit www.pugrescue.co.za and follow Pug Rescue SA on Facebook