• Karen Rae

Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe makes great progress with their grant from AKI

Most of Zimbabwe’s estimated 3 million dogs live in rural areas where the communities have little access to veterinary treatment. The average life span for a rural dog is just three years. A female dog will have litter after litter of pups and her health and the vitality of the pups she delivers deteriorates with each pregnancy. Also, many dogs are not vaccinated and outbreaks of distemper, rabies and parvo virus contribute to the low life expectancy. Rabies affects humans of course, making it doubly worthwhile to vaccinate against the deadly virus.


So VAWZ, operating in their well-equipped bus, travel to rural areas offering vaccination and sterilization clinics. Sick and injured animals are also treated and all services are carried out free of charge.

Members of a rural Zimbabwe community gather with their dogs ready for a VAWZ clinic

Using the AKI grant awarded earlier this year, Drs. Makuvadze and Spargo, together with Animal Welfare Inspectors and a vet assistant conducted two vaccination and sterilization clinics in September. The two veterinarians kindly volunteered their services.


On the first day, they set up a clinic in a small shopping centre strategically placed in a farming community. Local community members gathered with their dogs and within a short space of time both the vaccinating and operating were under way. A total of 14 dogs were sterilized and 35 pets received rabies vaccinations.


Jonas waits with Bingo at the VAWZ clinic

The following day, the team traveled to a more rural site with the gazebos being erected under the shade of indigenous trees. Again, many people were already waiting with their dogs, and the team was soon up and running. That day, 12 dogs and one cat were sterilized and 76 rabies vaccines administered.

Smart, the cat, being prepped for sterilization

At both sites, various ‘walk-in’ cases were attended to including internal and external parasite control and vitamin booster injections if the dogs were underweight.

Mr Karina and his dogs waiting for rabies and distemper vaccinations

The VAWZ team did not quite accomplish their goal for the AKI grant of sterilizing 40 animals (13 remaining) and vaccinating 200 (89 remaining). Melanie Hood, Chief Animal Welfare Officer, explained that the re-opening of schools after Covid restrictions may have negatively impacted their efforts. In many cases, Melanie wrote, it is the children who have a true relationship with the dogs and they are often tasked with bringing the animals to these clinics. Since many of them were back at school, and the parents are busy in the fields preparing for the coming cropping season, the turnout was slightly lower than hoped for.


However, Melanie is confident they will reach their targets by holding another clinic on the outskirts of Harare in the near future. If they coincide with a school holiday this will likely draw a good number of children and their pets.