AKI Grantee: Welfare for Animals Guild Rwanda
Welfare for Animals Guild-Rwanda received an AKI grant to expand WAG’s engagement with local communities virtually and in person. Specifically, the AKI grant funded the purchase of a smartphone, bike, helmet, and laptop for Paci, WAG Shelter Manager, so that he can set up and oversee a community network and conduct regular community visits.
WAG told us that, "developing this community network, composed of local dog owners, people interested in the work WAG does, and local veterinarians, will help foster a love of dogs and a community-based response to several animal welfare challenges. The community network will help WAG address advocacy for responsible dog ownership (routine vaccinations, sterilisation, and good welfare practices), reporting sick or stray dogs to local sector veterinarians or WAG, reporting animal cruelty cases to local leadership or police, and reporting of dog bite cases to local leadership for further investigation." Over 160 dog owners in various villages in Kicukiro District are now part of WAG's community network.
The bicycle allows Paci to conduct regular visits in local communities. Straight off, after receiving the bike, Paci began giving food and water to and socializing two street dogs who were fearful of people. The bike has made this very easy for him to do as he does not have to take public transport or spend time walking there. He can get a lot more community visits done now too!
The photos below show Paci feeding the 2 street dogs-they look healthy and are used to Paci's visits in these pictures. After 2 weeks they were ready for intake at the WAG shelter, where they were sterilized and vaccinated. Because of WAG's new mobile and high tech capacity, Paci was able to work with community members to make sure these dogs were fed every day and were somewhat looked after by the local community as WAG socialized them for intake.
Paci also uses the bike to visit foster homes. In the picture below, Paci is educating WAG foster Aimable on how to feed a nutritionally complete diet to one of WAG's pups, Ivanka. Of course it's preferable to keep puppies out of the shelter, and WAG's foster community provides such great support for this.
The bicycle also allows Paci to conduct home visits of potential adopters and to check on dogs adopted from the WAG shelter. Paci also travels around neighborhoods on his new bike and delivers information about animal welfare. For this purpose, WAG volunteers Olivia and Chouette developed educational materials on vaccinations and sterilization in both English and Kinyarwanda for Paci to distribute among community network members.
As an example of Paci's new mobility, in October, Paci conducted 1 home visit of a potential adopter, 7 community visits resulting in the rescue of 11 dogs: 3 dogs and 7 puppies, and 1 dog who was on WAG’s radar for intake for some time; 1 foster home visit to check up on a foster dog who had been having some health problems; and 2 post-adoption follow up visits.
In November, Paci conducted:
o 3 community visits resulting in the rescue of 2 adult dogs
o 2 post-adoption follow up visits
o Daily feeding of community dogs around the shelter
WAG added two new volunteers to support adoption visits, whom Paci has been working with closely.
WAG is very satisfied with how the grant project turned out: "We really feel that this is an innovative way to make sure the street dogs of Kigali have advocates! Increased community engagement is making a significant difference in the lives of many community dogs in Kigali."
WAG's Olivia told us about one of the positive factors that they had not anticipated from the community network: Based on their experience developing the community network, WAG wrote a concept note for the Government of Rwanda about a national dog registration plan to help understand more about dog demographics. Although they aren't sure when it will be implemented, WAG certainly has the ear of the government now.
Another positive outcome of the grant is that Paci has been really keen to expand his community engagement work, including reporting and networking using a variety of means. It seems WAG may need a part-time staff person to help Paci manage the shelter while he takes a larger role in community networking.
More about WAG:
WAG began in 2014 as a grassroots initiative to help stray dogs in Rwanda find homes. Using foster homes and a recently established small shelter space, WAG dogs receive food, veterinary care, love, and socialization until they are adopted. At the core of WAG's mission is that every dog, regardless of age, breed, or sex receives equal investment of resources and care. In addition to rescuing, rehabilitating, and re-homing street dogs, WAG provides emergency assistance to dogs in crisis (severe injuries, rescue from abusive situations, etc). WAG also plays a role in advocating for animal welfare, spay and neuter, vaccination against rabies, and serves as a valuable resource to dog owners.