Left to right: Sushi, Megan, Panda on Megan’s lap, and Ty (Megan’s soon-to-be husband) with Nala on his lap
Photo credit: Emma O’ Brien
Written by Megan Taylor, founder of The Sushi and Panda Foundation
The Sushi and Panda Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of South Africa’s township animals and their communities.
I started The Sushi and Panda Foundation in 2017 and named it after our two dogs, Sushi and Panda, with the idea that every animal should be treated and loved the way they are. I’ve always been an animal lover and have always wanted to get involved and do more. There’s no better way to do that than by doing it yourself and, thus, The Sushi and Panda Foundation was born.
Our work so far
We believe in choosing a community to help and sticking with it as a lifelong commitment. This is the only way to make a big impact and really change the lives of the animals for the better. We don’t believe in spreading ourselves too thin and have therefore chosen two townships as ongoing projects.
To date, between the two communities in which we work, we have sterilised 1,780 animals (and counting), and vaccinated, dewormed and treated thousands more. We’ve also rehomed 156 animals that were previously abused, abandoned, or neglected.
We started working in Touws River township, located in the Breede River Valley, Western Cape, in 2017. Our first task was mass sterilisation drives to try and make a big dent in the overbreeding and overpopulation of companion animals and to clean up all the street dogs, while also improving the quality of life for all the animals.
We’re proud to have been hugely successful in this regard and have now opened a free clinic in the township where the community can bring their animals for treatments, routine medication, vaccinations, and sterilisations. As mentioned, when you do outreach, it needs to be a continuous project in order to keep the animal overpopulation down and to truly make a difference.
This community had no access to vet care – the nearest private vet is an hour’s drive away – so animals would end up suffering if they became ill or injured. We’ve now empowered the community to care for their animals by providing access to free vet care, which helps to decrease suffering and, most of all, to try and prevent it.
We hold three mass sterilisation drives per year at our clinic where we sterilise as many animals as possible to keep on top of uncontrolled breeding and unwanted litters.
In addition, we’ve built a small animal haven in the township where we safely house abused, neglected, and unwanted animals before rehoming them.
We have two local staff members who live in Touws River Township. They’ve worked with us since we started, and we’ve been able to provide skills to enable them to assist our vets at the clinic, as well as looking after our haven and its animals. Our team also walks around the township daily to look for animals in bad living conditions, animals that have been injured, or any that have been abused or neglected. They’re also continuously educating the community on animal care and are a point of contact for any problems or emergencies the people of the community have with their animals.
The improvement we’ve seen in Touws River since we started working there is MASSIVE. When we go door to door, over 90% of the animals are sterilised and vaccinated, and there are no more street dogs. The condition of all the animals has also improved drastically, as well as their living conditions; this is because we encourage the community to bring their animals to our clinic to keep up with routine medication like vaccinations, deworming, and tick-and-flea control.
We were very excited to be able to take on another community at the beginning of this year, and we chose Tarlton Township in Gauteng.
We started off by doing big treatment days in the community where we vaccinated, dewormed, and treated for ticks and fleas. This allowed us to build up a relationship with the community and provided an opportunity to empower them through animal care education while improving their pets’ health. After a few months of doing this, we were ready to start with sterilisations.
We have one employee who goes into Tarlton once a week. He goes door to door, signing up animals for sterilisations, and notifying us about any unwanted or injured animals, which we immediately go and collect. He also installs running wires for dogs on short chains, all while speaking with the owners one-on-one to help educate them about the benefits of improving their animals’ quality of life.
Every second week, we collect animals that have been signed up for sterilisation and take them to be sterilised and vaccinated; we return them to their owners the same afternoon. Each animal is dewormed and treated for ticks and fleas and goes home with a bag of food and a blanket.
We’re so excited about the possibilities our new project holds, and we hope to eventually have it running like Touws River and to clean it up completely while drastically reducing the number of animals being born and improving the lives of the existing animals going forward.
You can get involved!
The Sushi and Panda Foundation is a registered non-profit company (NPC 2017/234772/08) which relies solely on public donations. The organisation is registered with SARS as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930058536) and can issue S18A tax certificates so that you can claim tax back on their donations.
We’re in constant need of funds to keep our projects alive and to be able to keep helping the animals in the two communities in our care. Funds are used for the following:
- Tick and flea treatments
- Medical bills for emergencies at private vets
- Food for the animals at our havens and in foster care
- Materials for running wires
How to donate
Account name: SP Foundation
ABSA Bank Cheque account
Branch code: 633505
Acc. number: 4092508591
Via PayPal: @sushiandpanda
Via SnapScan: see QR code at the end of this article
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
We distribute various pet-care necessities in the communities in order to help improve the living conditions of the animals. These include:
- Pet food
Become a foster family
We’re always in need of good foster families in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Every animal you foster allows us to take in and save another. Animals also have a much higher chance of being adopted from a foster home than a kennel environment.
There are so many fantastic animals looking for amazing forever homes, so if you have a space in your home and heart, please consider adopting. You can contact me if you’d like to apply to adopt one of our animals.
Share and spread the word
Social media is a platform that really helps us get the word out and allows the public to see the important work we do, so we’d really appreciate it if you gave us a follow and share our pages and posts to anyone you know.
For more information on how you can help the Sushi and Panda Foundation in making a difference to animals in need, contact Megan Taylor on 082 905 0277 or email email@example.com. Follow The Sushi and Panda Foundation on Facebook thesushiandpandafoundation and Instagram: sushi_and_panda_the_frenchies