PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - What started out as an initiative to feed hungry dogs in Plettenberg Bay's industrial area has taken on a life of its own and is now not only changing the lives of the local pooches, but also that of their young owners.
A couple of locals who work in the town's industrial area have registered the initiative dubbed Muddy Pooches as a nonprofit organisation and had already assisted in feeding 196 dogs in one week last December.
The canines were also sterilized, dewormed and vaccinated to boot.
Over and above this, the dogs' owners, young children from the surrounding townships, also got a bite to eat.
It was not a once-off event, but happens every Saturday thanks to the big hearts of residents and local veterinarians.
Tanya Hyde from Muddy Offroads said the initiative started about 12 years ago when her sister started feeding dogs in the area. This grew massively over the years to what is today.
Along with Marele Pretorius form Dunlop Zone, Hyde makes sure that the dogs in the area are fed, which results in about 50kg of food being devoured during the week. "We are greeted with love every single morning. There are about 15 pooches waiting for us when we arrive, all waiting to fill their bellies and for a tummy rub," Hyde said.
Come Saturday, this number increases dramatically as up to 200 dogs and owners pitch up to make use of their services. Each owner is then sent home with 1kg of dog food.
The dogs are brought in from surrounding areas including Bossiesgif, Qolweni, Pine Trees and New Horizons. "We have even had people bring their dogs all the way from Kwanokuthula."
The procedures are done by local veterinarians. Marine Way Vet has been on board for several years and Robberg Vet joined the initiative last weekend. They provide their services at reduced costs.
Food for owners, too
In return for bringing their dogs, the dogs' owners are also given something to eat.
"Some of the children who bring their dogs are very young. We've seen five and six-year-olds walking long distances to bring their pets to us."
Hyde explained that this is also and educational initiative to show the children how to care for their animals.
"Some of them have never even petted their dogs. We have to teach them the basics. This includes making them aware that a dog needs water all day, a bath from time to time and that they need medical attention when the need arises."
This has done wonders, she said, as the children now teach the adults how to care for their animals.
To make it fun for the children, they have created membership VIP cards for regulars. "It makes them feel they belong to a club," said Hyde.
From time to time, when they receive donations of dog bowls or other dog-related equipment, they do recycling initiatives. "We tell the children to collect plastic and in return receive something for their dogs." Last winter this incentive was dog kennels.
A way to help
To raise funds, Muddy Pooches asks for donations for a jumble sale which takes place once a month. People can also donate dog food or make donations towards the sterilisation and other medical costs. She suggested that those who want to help to make the donation to the vets themselves and just reference Muddy Pooches.
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