Poor African children learning to love dogs.

Animal welfare organization Network for Animals (NFA) has initiated an outreach program in South Africa’s desperately poor township areas, to add an educational aspect to their crusade against animal abuse.

“We’ve witnessed some awful neglect and cruelty, in townships, but often this is rooted in misinformation and fear,” says NFA campaigner, Luke Barritt. “Township children see dogs being abused and don’t understand that animals have feelings just like human beings, so they abuse them too. Education is key to solving this problem. If we can reach out to children, then the next generation will be more aware of animal welfare.”

To try and make the message relevant, NFA commissioned a short, animated video about a township boy who helps animals. The video is loosely based on the life of Shaygam Newman, who lives in Hangberg, in Cape Town, and who makes it his personal crusade to help street dogs.

NFA goes to schools in poor areas, engages with the children, screens the video, and encourages children to interact with dogs brought along by the Fallen Angels animal welfare shelter.

Five townships, namely Gugulethu, Masiphumelele, Mitchells Plain, Imizamo Yethu and Khayelitsha, have been targeted, with further roll-out scheduled for the holiday season in December – often a concerning time for animal welfare workers.

Last week the NFA team visited schools in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, where Barritt’s expectations were exceeded. Hundreds of children attended, and the session went on longer than planned. “It’s a long-term vision,” he says. “In impoverished areas, there is so much work to do to improve the lives of people as well as animals. But, especially with children, we see that even a brief interaction with a lovable dog makes an instant impact.”

“We know that it’s vital to augment direct, immediate rescue actions with education and awareness. Only that way can we truly forge greater respect and care for animals. Prevention is definitely better than the cure,” concludes NFA’s Barritt.

Please help us continue our vital work in poor African countries, teaching children to love and care for animals by donating to Network for Animals today.

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