Save Animals Raises Awareness of the Joy of Pets
For the 2nd year, Save Animals-Democratic Republic of Congo received an Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant. Their 2019 grant was for several innovative activities aimed at raising awareness and improving the care of animals, especially pets in the DRC, where cats and dogs are often viewed as food, dogs often used for guarding, and cats and dogs are rarely thought of as members of the family. This is what SA-DRC accomplished with the AKI grant.
1) SA-DRC signed a contract with a local TV station, ZTM TV, and hosted a TV show that was broadcast 2 Sundays/month at 20:15 and repeated on Mondays at 14:15. The TV show was funded with the AKI grant for 3 months and SA-DRC is raising money so that it can continue-it was very popular! Since SA-DRC started the TV show, people have been calling, texting, asking for advice, sending videos, denouncing animal mistreatment.
(I recommend watching the TV shows even if you don't understand French, you will understand most of what is happening and will get a great idea about animal welfare in Kinshasa, DRC.)
For the 1st show Vrigine, an animal lover, was a guest on the show with her dog and SA-DRC volunteers talked about their work. Link on YouTube : https://youtu.be/Ub-5OWojg4Q
The 2nd show had Adams Cassinga, coordinator of Conserv Congo, as a guest. He talked about protection of endangered animals and some of their upcoming activities. Link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/_wJDcNy4Mjw For the 3rd show, SA-DRC went to Lola ya Bonobo to show the bonobo sanctuary where they discussed its importance. Again Adams Cassinga was a guest on the show and talked about the proceedings between Conserv Congo and Béatrice Hotel where baby monkeys are a dish on their menu. Link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4NRHBURPGR0
The 4th show was mainly about SA-DRC's Bring a Smile program where they bring dogs to orphanages, schools, and other locations to raise awareness of cats and dogs as pets and to bring a smile. Link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/WenFi-OagjQ The 5th and 6th shows talked about animal mistreatment, that they are sold in bad conditions by disreputable breeders, dog fighting, and the belief that cats are witches.
SA-DRC said, "The TV show is the most powerful weapon that we have that can help us reach our goals effectively."
2) SA-DRC hosted a 3-day workshop, 3 hours/day, for pet owners, vets, and students (mainly vet students) entitled Keys for Proper Ownership. 57 people registered, but the room could only hold 30 people! Veterinarians and animal care experts discussed the basics of animal care and how to prevent and detect diseases and other problems that afflict pets.
An experienced animal care expert talked about washing and grooming dogs. In Kinshasa, people don't know how often they can bathe dogs and which products are safe. Ekwa gave an example of his own experience and why he thinks this is such an important message: "9 of my puppies died just because I was using a bad product to wash them, a bad product when they get fleas or ticks. I used to wash them with non-appropriate products (cyperméthrine) that was harmful for them. They were washed 3 times a week which was also destructive for their skin. That is why we see this opportunity to show dog owners the best practices. Even for those who don't have means to buy shampoo, they can use low-cost products such as baking soda, monganga (local medical soap)."
3) SA-DRC held awareness campaigns in 10 schools and orphanages bringing the message of animal welfare. They reached 4002 students, almost the double the the number they were able to reach last year.
On December 25, 2019, Save Animals visited the orphanage PROKIN, where they celebrated Christmas with the children. They brought donations of food, toys, and clothes, had a special presentation about endangered species in the DRC, and brought a dog along.
In March SA-DRC had planned to continue to visit schools, but due to coronavirus, they had to change their plans and instead took school children to the Zoo Jardin Zoologique de Kinshasa (zoological garden of Kinshasa). Animals at the zoo are in "very very very poor and bad conditions," Ekwa with SA-DRC told us. They used this as a learning experience though, and the children were told about the animals and animal welfare.
4) At the end of each month, SA-DRC held "Sanitation Day." On Sanitation Day, Save Animals visited the zoo, the same one mentioned above, where the animals are in very poor condition. They cleaned the cages, brought food for the animals, and cleaned all the facilities in the zoo. Save Animals is in negotiations with the zoo for a contract to bring 20-30 people, at no cost to the zoo, at the end of every month, bringing fruit, meat, and other food the animals should be eating, bringing items for enrichment to keep the animals from getting bored, and to get people interested in the animals. (Pictures below, Sanitation Day at the zoo)
5) SA-DRC made products for pets, such as dog beds from recycled tires, dog and cat beds from used pull-over shirts and sweaters, and cat houses and scratching posts. Most of the products were from recycled products and were sold for US$5-$40 to raise money for Save Animals-DRC.
Ekwa and the rest of Save Animals feel that this grant project was a great success:
People all over Kinshasa are interested in and have started organizing animal events. SA-DRC hopes to have ambassadors all over Kinshasa to implement their vision in the districts.
SA-DRC are now partners with the National Order of Veterinaries, the Ministry of Environment, and the Association of Students of Kinshasa.
Ekwa said, "In this way, you can measure the growing impact of Save Animals and its activities."