PHOTO: Lower South Coast SPCA’s Marketing and Fund Developer, Madri Koen, (left), and Operations Manager Lauren Ferreira with lodgers not keen on being photographed.
By Johan Pretorius
eHowzit paid a visit to the Lower South Coast SPCA recently, and was warmly welcomed by Lauren Ferreira, who has been the Operations Manager for the past 1 year, but has been at this SPCA for 4 ½ years . The extremely positive perception when arriving at the complex was instantly proven correct. Lauren is obviously dedicated to her job and an obvious animal lover. She confirmed the age-old problem of generating funds to finance the SPCA’s activities, is still there, and nowadays the situation is even more difficult. “Up till now we have had a difficult year, because fewer people than before are bringing their dogs to us when they come down on holiday, and the same goes for locals when they go away. Our income from this source has dropped by 12%”. There has also been a drop in income from the SPCA clinic, which has two full-time veterinarians, and is normally a solid source of income. “People bring their animals for treatment, and then can’t pay. We can’t turn them away, and never will, because our mission is to help animals.”
Another problem which has grown, is the number of stray and homeless dogs brought to the SPCA, or found roaming around. “People can either not afford to keep their animals, or they move to smaller accommodation, then bring their animals to us,” Lauren says. “There are even people who move away, lock stock and barrel, and simply leave their animals on a property where they are then found much later in a seriously neglected condition.” However, Lauren says, she and her colleagues are fully aware of the realities of life. “We can only do what is within our power to improve the situation. We cannot change the world. We can only alleviate the circumstances.”
The SPCA does exemplary work to inform, educate and advise people on how to care for their animals, especially in the rural areas such as Gamalakhe. For example, there are two programmes for learners, one for grades R to 6, and one from grade 7 upwards. The written and social media such as Facebook are used extensively to highlight the activities of the SPCA, to sensitise the public to the plight of homeless animals, and to make them aware of the variety of animals that are available for adoption. “We keep dogs as long as possible because we don’t like to unnecessarily take lives. Unfortunately, the reality is that some dogs for some reason or another do not adapt, or do not find homes, and the inevitable decision has to be taken.” Lauren says the local SPCA liaises regularly with other branches on matters of mutual concern, and they have a large group of enthusiastic volunteers who help to socialise the animals and to help them live as normal lives as possible under the circumstances. The average number of dogs which get lost monthly, and then found by their owners at the SPCA, vary between 35 to 40 per month. Between 35 and 50 dogs per month find new owners, and an average of 120 per month are taken in.
When people adopt animals at the SPCA, it costs R450 for males, and R550 for females. “People often ask why so expensive? What they do not realise is that they do not pay for the animal, but for the medical, innoculation and maintenance costs. Both males and females are sterilised. The new owners sign a contract, which inter alia says that the animals remain the property of the SPCA. They are in fact adopted in the true sense of the word. If inspections should reveal that they are being neglected, or for other reasons, they are then taken back to the SPCA.”
Even though the finances of the SPCA are sound, and very well managed by experts, as I could see myself on their financial statements, Lauren emphasises that donations, especially from big concerns, are vital for the SPCA to survive. There are three SPCA shops, one at the main complex, and one each at the Shelly Centre and Harbourview Spar in Port Shepstone where people can donate articles or clothing. This is then sold to boost the finances. Lauren appeals to people to donate any unwanted clothing or consumer articles to the SPCA. At the moment there is a ‘High Five’ project in terms of which R50 per month can be donated via debit order to the organisation.
The SPCA’s Marketing and Fund Developer in Madri Koen, and more information can be obtained from her and Lauren. Their numbers are 039-312-0962/039-317-3362.