This past weekend we had the joyful privilege of delivering all the pet food we collected to the JHB SPCA situated in Reuven just off of Klipriver Drive.
Prior to our drop off we went to spend a day with the lovely folks of the SPCA…
It seemed like a strange request from the Johannesburg SPCA Office Administrator Ann. Sensing my confusion, she explained her request.
“Newspapers are the least donated, but most needed item. We use them everywhere, from the kennels to the hospital.”
As Ann directed me around the huge expanse that is JHB SPCA, she showed a yellow container inside the compound’s gate where people can drop off newspapers. But that’s not the only item needed for the animal-loving nonprofit.
Bustling and Barking
With nearly 50 employees, the SPCA is bustling with activity. The office is full of people. Some workers are answering telephones, while others speak with pet owners inquiring about vaccines. The waiting room’s chairs are filled with people and several different breeds of dogs on leashes. In the not-so-far distance, I hear barking and a few squawks from what sounds like a duck.
Ann’s soft, but firm voices rises above the noise as she explains how the JHB SPCA is set up and managed. The SPCA is split into several sections: the office, transmit area, the hospital, the intensive care unit, the cat and dog wards, and the farmyard.
(Yes, you read that right: the farmyard! But more on that later.)
From the inspectors out on the streets to the cleaners and veterinarians in the trenches, the SPCA employees do amazing jobs as they help out the animals. But thankfully, these hardworking employees don’t have to do it all alone. Volunteers have a huge role at the SPCA helping entertain and exercise the dogs. Although the SPCA has several areas dedicated to our furry and feathered friends, volunteers may only donate their time in the kennels. But that doesn’t mean we can only help in one way.
From Apples to Toys
When most people think of the SPCA and donations, they only think of cats and dogs in kennels, patiently waiting to be adopted. But as Ann quickly pointed out, there is so much more to the SPCA than just adoption.
What can you donate?
- Time and services as a volunteer
- Durable toys for the dogs
But other things are on the SPCA’s list as well. Basically, anything that can help keep their administrative and supply costs low. You can donate stationery for the office, wall heaters for the transmit areas, inspectors’ uniforms, silver bowls for food, safety boots and rain gear for the cleaners, and even apples for the donkey.
The SPCA Process: From Intake to Adoption
When animals are first brought in, they must wait in transmit, which is always “chockablock” with over 50 animals. These animals must be kept in quarantine for health and safety reasons, but they are well cared for as they wait out the first days at the SPCA checking their health.
Unfortunately, some animals are in absolutely terrible condition when they arrive. It saddens the SPCA to see severely abused and neglected animals, barely hanging on to their lives because of selfish, cruel humans. Some animals may see the inside of the hospital or even ICU wards as they undergo surgery and recovery. These animals may never make it out of quarantine despite the efforts of the veterinarians and workers.
The animals who do pass the transmit stage move to the kennels waiting for adoption, which starts at 12 weeks. Why is there a waiting time? Because at 12 weeks, the SPCA sterilizes all their adoptable animals to help with the overpopulation problem that negligent breeders and pet owners have caused.
These adoptable animals spend their time at the SPCA with other friends. The animals are carefully grouped to account for age, breed, and activity levels to make sure the kennels remain a harmonious place as animals wait for their forever homes.
Even farm animals can thrive with the proper home. And that’s what the JHB SPCA provides for a few lucky friends, including a donkey, a pig, cows, goats, chicken, ducks, geese, and peacocks.
The Farm in the Middle of the City
In the middle of the city, this farmyard seems a bit out of place. The animals have arrived, for the most part, because of prosecution cases where their welfare was in danger. But they don’t realize their new home is in Johannesburg. In fact, they adjust quite nicely thanks to the care they receive.
Ann takes me to her favorite place to destress after a tough day. We arrive to the gate of Donk, the resident gray donkey who seems to smile as Ann approaches. She apologizes to him for not having an apple.
“Apples are his favorite treat,” she explains.
He brays a loud “Haaaaw” as if whining. She scratches him near his ear and he breathes noisily.
“Apples are another item we can have as donations.” Ann turns and points towards another area, “One man has donated an old trampoline that our goats love to play with. If you can see under it, you’ll notice that’s where our chickens like to hide.”
Sure enough, there are quite a few animals scattered about, including a huge pig that comes right up to me slowly before we leave the farm (partially thanks to the geese, which I am petrified of!).
These adorable animals will live the rest of the lives in the company of the SPCA. But they do have visitors, as schools often take field trips to educate students about the amazing animals.
“A loving home makes all the difference”
Though the farm animals aren’t available to adopt, there are plenty of dogs and cats to choose. But when adoption occurs at the SPCA, it’s a process. This is to ensure the safety of the animal and the adoptive family.
The adoptive family will come into the kennels, choose their potential new furry family member, and then fill out forms at the office. After a deposit of 100 rand, the office will send inspectors to the possible forever home.
What do the inspectors check for? Well, for one, a safe home environment that provides shelter from the sun and rain and a secure property to ensure the animal won’t accidentally escape. Another consideration is if the specific animal will be happy in the environment. For example, a Great Dane wouldn’t have enough room to exercise in a studio apartment.
Upon approval, the family will officially adopt their animal after paying a fee of 500 rand. This small investment covers all vaccinations, the sterilization, and a microchip.
As Ann said, “A loving home makes all the difference.”
How is Mad Okes Charity Helping
During our Challenge Paw, Mad Okes Charity was committed to providing for our friends at the SPCA. Thanks to our Chariteers and sponsors, Mad Okes Charity managed to raise enough money for over 175kgs of pet food for the JHB SPCA.
We are grateful for these monetary donations, but we also took it a step further to provide other items for the SPCA animals. We collected newspapers, bags of apples, and even have a volunteer application in progress so we can spend some time with the dogs and cats.
Thanks for all your unending support.