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Cape Town - A man, 69, pushing his three-legged dog around in a wheelchair bound for Pretoria has caused a stir with motorists, the SPCA and a veterinary organisation.
On Sunday Marne van den Heever and his dog Tripod were just four days into their “afternoon stroll” which will ultimately see them walk more than 1 400km from Cape Town to Pretoria.
The man, who was 25km away from Caledon at the time of going to print, said he was taking on the colossal task for two reasons - he wanted to raise awareness around the problems faced by disabled dogs and people and, he wanted to test whether he could turn the long walk into a fund-raising event for disabled dogs and people at a later stage.
The intrepid walker has already raised a few eyebrows, with concerned commuters taking to CapeTalk and Twitter to air their concerns. Some are worried about the dog and others are suspicious of Van den Heever’s intentions.
Allan Perrins, chief executive officer of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, said he managed to intercept the walker on Friday. According to Perrins, Van den Heever had told the SPCA that the purpose of the walk was to raise funds for, among other beneficiaries, SAVA Community Veterinary Clinics (CVC).
But Van den Heever said this was not true.
“I’m first testing out if I can do this,” he said. “I want to see not only if I can cope with the distance, but I also want to see if the dog gets stressed. If it does work out I will approach sponsors and make the necessary arrangements to make it official,” said Van den Heever. “If it doesn’t, I will call someone to pick us up.”
“I want to make this abundantly clear, I am not doing this right now to raise money,” he added.
He said so far Tripod had enjoyed the journey and seemed relaxed on the road.
Van den Heever had rescued the three-legged sheep dog from a shelter last year and the disabled pup has galvanised him into helping dogs and people with disabilities.
The Prince Alfred’s Hamlet man has modified the canine’s ride, even adding an umbrella and compartments for food and water.
Van den Heever said he sold his home near Ceres to, in part, pay for the venture.
SAVA CVC said they had met informally with Van den Heever two years ago but that no formal arrangements had been made for any fund-raising. Since then, no further meetings had taken place.