One of the sad things that haunt our team members when they venture into dangerous South African townships to feed hungry dogs, is the sight of dog-after-dog chained up in baking heat with no food, water or shade.
You would think that everyone knows that dogs need basic care and should not be kept on short chains that cut into their necks. Yet many slum dwellers either do not seem to know or care.
Every time we visit Westlake township with our partner Fur-Get-Me-Knot to feed street dogs, we encounter scenes that would melt your heart.
Emaciated dogs choke on chains as they desperately strain for food and love!
You will see from our pictures just how many dogs are suffering in this way but let us tell you about just two of them…
Bruno, lives chained in a narrow alley. His sleeping place is ground covered in excrement and rubbish. The alley is about 47 inches (120 cm) wide and Bruno is kept on a short chain just long enough for him to touch both sides. When we met him, he had no food or water and was panting from the heat. We immediately provided food and water… but here’s the truly touching thing: Bruno gobbled a mouthful of food and then concentrated on what he really wanted most of all… love.
As we petted Bruno, he wagged his tail so hard, we thought it might fall off!
It broke our hearts to leave Bruno, but only the police can intervene in situations like these, and there are so many dogs in the same plight that even if the police showed concern (which they seldom do) they would not have the manpower to take action. Besides, under current laws, the chances are Bruno would be confiscated and then executed. And that we won't stand for. If we could find Bruno’s owner and he agreed, we could rescue Bruno and give him safe haven, but so very often owners refuse to do the right thing because they say they use the dogs as watchdogs.
Honestly, they do have a point - townships are lawless and watchdogs do help, but keeping dogs on chains, hungry and thirsty is not the answer and we are doing our best to change the situation. Also, we know that these uncaring people will abandon a dog when it gets sick - the poor thing will be turned loose on the streets to starve or die from illness or hit and run drivers. It’s an ugly world for dogs in such places.
All we can do is educate owners, explaining to them that dogs will repay you a thousandfold with love and loyalty if you care for them properly. Kicking and beatings have no place in a dog’s life and yet that is often part of their daily life. Education is vital and we have to keep visiting the township teaching, feeding, watering, and dishing out much-needed love. With your help, we will keep going back and doing exactly that for as long as it takes to find a long-term solution.
Your help for these animals is so important for dogs like Rocky. Poor Rocky was so thin his ribs stuck out and he was also chained in the heat with no food or water. Once again, all we could do was provide immediate aid and try to reason with Rocky’s owner… who was nowhere to be found. Don’t worry, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator… We will be back!
All we set out to do on our latest visit to Westlake township was to feed dogs. Julie Marzio, who runs Fur-Get-Me-Knot, got tears in her eyes on our latest visit because she said without the money our supporters raise for the feeding program, so many dogs would die. She was almost as glad to see us as Rocky and Bruno!
If you watch our video, you will see how happy the dogs were to get a square meal. Providing the food was difficult because many dogs were chained in backyards and could not reach the food. We clambered over walls and vaulted gates… but we got the job done.
In these COVID times, we are being inundated with pleas to help dogs from all over the world. Every dog is important and in Westlake we and Fur-Get-Me-Knot are their only hope. The people can't help because they have no money and no jobs. Without the aid our supporters give, some 400 dogs would go hungry. We need your help to feed them. And we can’t ignore the chained, abused dogs even if we do not have the legal authority to rescue them. We will keep going back and reasoning with their owners and slowly, one-by-one, we will improve the lives of abused and hungry animals.
For the animals,
Brian and Gloria Davies (and Max and Flora!)
Network for Animals
P.S. The dogs of Westlake go through 350 pounds (160 kilos) of food a week and really could do with triple (treble) that. Just $25 (£19) will buy enough food to last a medium-sized dog two months. Please, please help the dogs of Westlake with a bag of food and we promise that we will do our best too, by being there, showing them love and fighting for their well-being.