Cape Town - While the constant wave of rising food, fuel, and electricity prices have South Africans in depression and many still living below the poverty line, animals are also bearing the brunt.
TEARS Animal Rescue has there launched its Feed Hungry Pets campaign in an attempt to bridge the food insecurity in low-income communities as a number of pets are dying from starvation.
The animal rescue said its mobile clinics have recorded a 66% increase in rescues over the last year, with a 300% increase of pet owners seeking help for pet food support or surrendering their pets.
TEARS operations manager, Mandy Store said the knock-on effects of Covid-19 has affected animals in the worst way.
“The knock-on effects of Covid-19 and the increases in food and fuel costs are wreaking havoc in low-income communities as pet owners are not able to feed themselves, their families, or animals.
“We desperately need to provide starving community pets with pet food as a means of mitigating the number of animals that are succumbing to malnutrition and lack of food.
“Those animals that aren’t chained up, are forced to scavenge to stay alive, while others if they are fed, are often fed mealie pap, which doesn’t provide them with adequate protein or nutritional support.
“TEARS is operating at full capacity with 250 animals in our care at the TEARS Kennel and Cattery, with extensive waiting lists for more animals needing admission.
“As soon as one animal is adopted the space becomes available for another. We strongly advocate for people to ‘adopt’ rather than ‘shop’ when it comes to pets.
“Adopting a shelter pet saves two animals, the one being adopted and the one being given its second chance to a new journey,” Store said.
She said TEARS was not the only animal welfare organisation battling to cope with the alarming number of starving, sick, and homeless animals in need of help.
TEARS provides veterinary and pet food support to registered beneficiary organisations like Afripaw in Vrygrond, 1-Kennel-At-A-Time in Ocean View, and Redhill Animal Rescue in Red Hill as a means of increasing its impact and welfare footprint in those communities.
“TEARS wouldn’t be as effective if it weren’t for our non-profit community partners who operate on the ground, and work directly with community leaders and community pet owners to identify the most critical needs, enabling us to provide a coordinated and collective response in terms of pet food donations and welfare veterinary services,” Store said.
AfriPaw co-founder and director, Anel Wesson said its biggest need is pet food.
“When you walk the streets of Vrygrond and Overcome Heights it's difficult to prioritise the most critical needs because wherever you look there is a need. It’s not because of a lack of care or concern on behalf of pet owners, but because of desperation. TEARS and AfriPaw bring hope to communities through practical solutions.
“Together, we manage this in a structured and targeted way, either during monthly Pet Clinics, favouring those who have sterilised their pets and attend clinics regularly, demonstrating a pattern of responsible behaviour, or during Spay Days, where each sterilised pet is sent home with a generous bag of food.
“Pet food is used as a powerful incentive, so donations not only fill the stomachs of hungry dogs and cats, it acts as leverage to encourage responsible pet ownership. So every bag of donated pet food makes a difference on both an immediate physical level, but also on a long-term educational level,” Wesson said.
Head of fundraising for TEARS, Lara van Rensburg said the campaign is not only to raise awareness of the harsh realities faced by homeless and starving animals, but it also highlights the plight of more marginalised pet owners who themselves don’t have the means to support their families or the beloved pets.
“We rely on the generosity of the public for donations to enable TEARS to continue providing vital veterinary healthcare, rescue, and emergency pet food support to at-risk companion animals. R200 will feed one hungry community pet for a month,” Van Rensburg said.
To support the TEARS campaign to feed hungry animals, donations can be made via www.tears.org.za/feed-hungry-pets or purchase a dog kennel or blankets from the TEARS Online Shop to donate.