Meet KAWS' dynamos and lend a hand

The dynamic and hardworking team of KAWS.

KNYSNA NEWS - Knysna Animal Welfare Society (KAWS) was established over 60 years ago in order to care for the health and well-being of animals in need.

Today the Society has its own hospital and clinic as well as three mobile 'animal ambulances' and serves the Knysna Municipal area from Sedgefield in the West to Harkerville in the East.

General manager Rita Brock shares some of her interactions with the team at KAWS.

“Each member of staff answered similarly when asked what message they would like to share with the community: KAWS is there to help and support as much as possible. ‘We want to be part of a positive change, doing our best in a professional manner'."

Building trust within a community takes time. Aptly named inspector and assistant, Helpus Ndlebe, has been with KAWS for 17 years. He explains that his ongoing dedication to KAWS is based on his passion for animals in general. He is committed to raising awareness of animal needs with everyone that he meets. He remains calm in challenging circumstances and is often heard to say, “Hmmm… let's see what can be done?” Nothing is impossible when he is around.

KAWS inspectors cover a large area and often drive far when responding to calls for help. Details are often vague and physical addresses not easy to find. Inspector Victor Mkamanga goes the extra mile to find the people and animals in need.

The story shared by Inspector Lastborn Monki reiterates the need for clear descriptions: “We were trying to catch a stray dog near the municipal buildings in town. Eventually I caught it. It totally fit the description - brown, medium size and lost. I was so proud because it took a lot of time and effort. Once I got it to KAWS I found out that it was not the dog reported, calls were still streaming in. It was another brown medium-sized dog. In the end we did get the other dog, but I will always be reminded that he was not the one! The description fits most stray dogs entering town.”

Paul Mbewe assists in the veterinary clinic. He does his utmost to ensure that all is well, clean and calm while he is around. Having been with KAWS since 2006 he fully understands the clinic's needs and makes sure that everyone is well cared for. His wish is “to be enabled to do our best. That is what the supporters of KAWS can do; they can enable the staff to do their best with the best tools to increase our success rate.”

James Thabete has a particularly engaging way with puppies who seem to adore him. As kennel support, Thabete loves working for KAWS and has a few dogs and a cat of his own. He enjoys seeing how many animals KAWS have sterilised. He believes that prevention is the answer to pet overpopulation and the more KAWS can do, the happier he will be.

Goodman Nene, assistant and inspector with a legendary smile, particularly likes the changes that have taken place over the last two years. “KAWS has changed tremendously. We now have a clinic and hospital achieving more than ever before. The growing number of people coming to us shows the increasing respect for animals in general. Our clinic serves people who are not able to afford private veterinary care. Only people who qualify for welfare may make use of our veterinary services. Clinic hours need to be strictly adhered to, to enable us to also give attention to the animals in our care."

Hester Richards runs the kitchen and laundry and keeps a close eye on hygiene standards. “It is important to be professional in what you do because it reflects in all aspects of your life.”

Resident veterinarian, Dr Hilana Steyn divides her attention between hospital patients, consulting hours, emergencies, strays, surrendered animals and animals in the kennels. She treats dogs, cats and a variety of other species and often faces challenging cases without the resources found in private practice.

Her compassion and empathy for all, including staff is hugely appreciated. 'The Doc' who has chosen the less profitable path of welfare work, has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organisation.
The first point of contact and front of house at the kennels is Tarryn Gillitt. She is able to remain calm while assisting numerous waiting people, dogs barking, visitors arriving, staff needing guidance and clinic arrivals. Deciding whether a call is a true emergency is not always easy, particularly when one relies on inexperienced pet owners' observations. She possesses an inert ability to communicate at all levels and respects the needs of each individual regardless of species, background or circumstance.

Knysna can be proud of this team of committed, passionate people at KAWS who are doing their best for the well-being of animals in need. The organisation welcomes support, both in cash and in kind, to enable it to keep up this work. Right now KAWS is in need of shade cloth, awnings for animals awaiting clinic treatments, pet crates and carriers as well as a new microscope for the clinic.
Doggy walkers and kitty petters needed

KAWS is looking for dog walkers for every day of the week who are able to devote just two hours a week to this rewarding and healthy pastime. Contact Elaine Levitte, volunteer coordinator on 082 568 9954. If unable to walk, there are many other ways to assist - kitties and puppies need to be socialised, there are letters to be written, phones to answer, funds to be raised and more. "We look forward to hearing from you and you will never regret it!" enthuses Levitte.

Everybody able to support KAWS in any way is urged to kindly call the dynamic and dedicated workoholics at KAWS on 044 384 1603.

The dynamic and hardworking team of KAWS are (from left) Lastborn Monki holding Toulouse, Tarryn Gillitt, Goodman Nene, Hester Richards, Dr Hilana Steyn, Victor Mkamanga, Helpus Ndlebe, James Thabethe, Paul Mbewe and Rita Brock holding Bentley.

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