SPCA GRAHAMSTOWN completed their AKI grant project, Project Vala. 'Vala' means 'close/shut' in isiXhosa, and is the term used by the Xhosa community when speaking of sterilizing an animal.
Michelle from SPCA Grahamstown told us, "Our SPCA has not had the funds to do a sterilization drive for a number of years. The AKI grant made it possible for us to assist the community of Khayelitsha with sterilizations, rabies vaccs, dewormers, skin parasite treatments as well as pet welfare education on a one-to-one basis. We also managed to extend our reach into the neighbouring area of Thembeni and make a significant impact there too."
Before sterilizing, all animals are checked for overall health and often they are found to need other veterinary care, particularly treatment for mange. All the dogs treated by the SPCA Grahamstown team, are gifted a bag of food when they're ready to go home.
The SPCA Grahamstown team collected Frisky for her sterilization surgery, but her vet check-up revealed a severe leg laceration which needed stitches and antibiotics.
SPCA Grahamstown Inspectors Maloli Dingana and Lee Matthews collected Nontombi, for sterilization, but during the pre-check, the vet found Nontombi had biliary and her surgery was postponed. Nontombi stayed at the SPCA kennels for 2 weeks while recovering. She was then sterilized and returned home.
Unfortunately, the impact of endless litters has left households with multiple animals and not enough resources. Interbreeding is a problem and many of the puppies do not reach adulthood due to harsh living conditions and illness.
Project Vala took place during puppy season and SPCA Grahamstown teams came across pregnant dogs EVERYWHERE – some of their owners weren't even aware they were pregnant. The SPCA prioritized spaying of pregnant dogs and even went "out-of-area" to reach some pregnant dogs.
The SPCA team brought Spyker to their kennels since they were planning to spay her the following day. What a surprise when they went to Spyker's pen to collect her for surgery and found she had given birth to two pups! Spyker's family was notified about the puppies and that her sterilization would have to be postponed.
They said with previous litters, the pups had always died. Knowing this, the SPCA didn’t want to move her, and wanted to ensure she went home sterilized. With her owner’s permission, she remained at the SPCA kennels until her pups were weaned and she could be spayed.
Spyker was spayed on November 2 and returned home with her pups. Despite the SPCA's efforts, the owner wouldn't surrender Spyker's puppies to them. But the SPCA staff will keep track of the puppies and have the concurrence of the family to have them sterilized in 4 months.
On a happy note, the SPCA Grahamstown staff were pleased to note that many owners were trying to care for their animals, despite challenging living circumstances. Staff were well received by owners and they were very grateful for the opportunity to have their pets sterilized.
One of the wonderful outcomes of Project Vala is that word is spreading throughout the communities about the work of the SPCA. When one of the team was attending to an emergency in another village, the people came rushing to her vehicle, asking her when the SPCA was going to start sterilizing there. Michelle and the staff at SPCA are keeping a list of interested dog owners and plan to apply for a grant in 2024!
“We would love to spread the project to other areas,” Michelle said, “there are so many townships and informal settlements nearby and the need is huge.”
Overall, Michelle told us, "for our staff, it has been a huge task which they have tackled with enthusiasm and dedication. Canvassing for sterilizations, communicating with owners, following up on bookings, collecting animals and returning them home (including some bites, nothing serious!), keeping me posted every day, getting permission for treatments, liaising with vets, taking photographs, keeping records …. was all part of the job! So often our staff are faced with heartbreaking situations and very limited funds, so it was a huge boost for them (and me) to be part of something so proactive and positive, and very much linked to our mandate of preventing cruelty to animals."