BREAKING BARRIERS FOR ANIMALS IN DIEPSLOOT EXTENSIONS

The Society has been serving the population of Diepsloot for 17 years.

A densely populated township in Gauteng, South Africa with a conservatively estimated population of between 350,000 and 400,000 people, living in a district divided into “12 extensions” (The Guardian, International Edition, 2019).http://www.diepsloot.com/

It is made up of brick houses built by landowners, a mix of public housing blocks, and shacks made of corrugated iron and plastic lining. Residents reliant on outbuildings for sanitation.

45.5%, of residents rent their property from a landowner who has subdivided their land.

While the main road is paved, the side streets are gravel, ditches, and stagnant waste. The informal streets are a maze.

The township is surrounded by open fields and farms, while the closest neighbourhoods are wealthy gated communities.

THE PROBLEM

The problem in Diepsloot was the critical need for veterinary care at the outset, confirmed by veterinary intervention need’s assessments conducted by SAID veterinary professionals, engaged potential collaborators, and connected community actors to evaluate approaches.

Maintaining dog population size and demography in balance with human ideals with aims including reducing the number of unwanted dogs, keeping wanted dogs in a good state of health and welfare, and minimising risks presented by dogs to public health and other animals. An example of a problem targeted by dog population management is reducing the high birth and mortality rates (euthanasia).

Findings exposed thin, free-roaming, and hungry dogs and cats with ticks, uncontrolled breeding, unhealthy and unsafe environments, untreated injuries, prevalence of infectious diseases, most not immunised by vaccination. High numbers of free-roaming dogs a concern.

According to the World Animal Health Association (OIE), there is much evidence that achieving 70% vaccination coverage (Conan A, 2015), even where dog population turnover is high, is feasible but challenging.

Sterilization of at least 70% to 83% (Widyastuti MD, 2015;) of females is often mentioned as a target to achieve for population reduction. A sustainable remedy for both disease and animal welfare problems posed by free-roaming dogs in developing countries.

Diseases know no boundaries, the condition of the animals in Diepsloot were the result of several issues including, no access to affordable veterinary services in the community, lack of knowledge amongst community members on how to better care of their animals.

THE GOALS

  • improve domestic animal welfare
  • improve care provided to animals
  • reduce dog and cat population density or stabilise population turnover
  • reduce risks to public health
  • improve public perception
  • reduce intake and increase annual live release rates to improve animal rehoming and shelter performance
  • reduce negative impact of dogs on livestock (cows and chickens)
  • reduce rates of roaming animals in traffic accidents

KEY FINDINGS

  • Together, we delivered highly successful field programs, stabilising animal health for our marginalized clients in these districts.
  • 40% of dwellings own 5 animals, per household.
  • 60% of dwellings own 2-3 animals, per household
  • 70% AHT success rate engaging households for pet sterilisations, on the 1st visit.
  • 70% dogs and cats sterilized
  • 70% vaccination rate
  • 2% animal owners are dog breeders
  • 10% new owners represent the fluctuation of residents
  • 18% do not own animals
  • 20% of animal clinical cases were exposed while servicing the area
  • Property landowners remain static while 30% of their tenants keep animals.
  • 40% of the time, constituents’ flag down the SAID mobile unit and rely on their consistent presence in the area.
  • Low community reliance on SAID Emergency number, 083 640 8825.
  • AHTs delivered 2 to 3 visits per dwelling – assessment, treatment, and treatment maintenance. For example, periodic vaccinations, post-surgery wound care and pain management

GEOGRAPHICAL REACH

  • Comparatively, Diepsloot Extension’s 4, 9 & 10 statistics match Extension 2’s statistics.
  • Diepsloot Extension 5 houses mainly dog breeders. Barriers to veterinary service delivery are rejection to sterilisation.
  • Extensions 7, 12 and 13 are temporary dwellings (squatter camps) with 70% – 80% animals sterilised.
  • 90% sterilisation secured around the Diepsloot Northern Farm Nature Reserve.
  • AHT mobile units, target areas all the way to Greater Tembisa, Gauteng.
  • Comparatively, Tembisa communities know and use The Society for Animals in Distress emergency number 083 640 8825.

IMPACT INDICATORS

A notable indicator of people being more receptive to animal welfare education and collaboration is the increased improved ownership and involvement.

A further indicator of care or ‘responsibility’ by owners is owner engagement in the intervention itself.

Increase in the number of dogs voluntarily brought to The Society’s hospital

Increase in the number of responsibility donations by animal owners for veterinary treatments indicate improved attitudes of ownership and animal value.

Significantly improved perceptions of the value of veterinary interventions in relation to the list of charges suggested by The Society for Animals in Distress and SAVC (South African Veterinary Council)

CONCLUSION

Domestic animal health services delivered by SAID AHT mobile units in Diepsloot helped strengthen South African Veterinary Services to deliver effective control, governance, animal health, public safety for people in the district.

There has been a significant change in attitude of dog and cat owners – they proactively seek vaccinations and are willing to pay a responsibility donation for it.

Significantly Improved collaboration between The Society’s veterinary services and local animal welfare organisations.

The Society for Animals in Distress programmes have demonstrated that strategically targeted animal health, social interventions and partner funding can make a big impact.

The programme is part of a continuing process at promoting best practices, transparency, and capacity of Veterinary Services to address animal health and welfare and public health problems.

The important role that domestic animals play in almost all human communities, whether as working animals or companions, cannot be denied.

Dogs also present risks to human communities and suffer welfare problems themselves, and so efforts to manage their populations to reduce risks and maintain good welfare will always be needed.

AHT SUSTAINABILITY REPORT

We believe that the best way to bring to life a programme’s legacy of change is by asking the people affected how their lives have been altered. This is a different kind of sustainability report, where you can read first-hand accounts of how what we do is making a positive, lasting impact for animals, individuals, and communities.

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