Cape Town - Six years ago Marne van den Heever, in an attempt to raise awareness about disabled animals and people, pushed his three-legged dog in a wheelchair from Cape Town to Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe. This move caused a stir with motorists and veterinary organisations.
Today Tripod and his adopted owner, Van den Heever, 75, are on a mission to raise funds for the first Paws Day to be held early next year to try to raise funds for dogs in shelters.
“In 2013, Tripod, a three-legged rescue dog, and I embarked on a journey of more than 2000km.
“We wanted to raise awareness of the problems faced by disabled dogs and people, and wanted to test whether we could turn the long walk into a fund-raising event for disabled dogs and people at a later stage,” Van den Heever said.
He said Paws Day had the same principle as Casual Day - the aim to create awareness of disabled dogs while garnering support from businesses and interested parties.
“Our message is to ‘adopt, don’t shop’. We became aware of the dire need for funds to care for dogs in need.
“During our expedition in Pretoria, we registered a trademark called Paws Day, where on this day a paper dog collar will be sold for R10 to the public. This collar can either be worn around the dog’s neck or the owner on that day,” he said.
Both Van den Heever and Tripod’s lives were affected by accidents. Tripod was hit by a taxi and left for dead. Fortunately, he was rescued by a local animal welfare society, but his leg had to be amputated.
Van den Heever suffered from anxiety and depression after a serious accident, but discovered that companionship with a dog gave him a new lease of life.
“My life has become a symphony of extraordinary beauty and simplicity since Tripod has allowed me to share his life. If I didn’t have this dog, I would have long gone. I thought I rescued him, but he actually rescued me,” he said.
Actress and animal activist Jenna Saras said: “Worldwide at least 2.7-million dogs are killed because shelters and other organisations cannot afford to keep them until they are adopted. If done well this initiative will bring enough funds to donate to organisations and shelters that look after dogs and animals as there are lots of them but they do not have enough funds,” she said.