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 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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)
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.
IN THEIR WORDS:
I am where I am today due to the mentorship programme at S.A.I.D (The Society for Animals in Distress). The organisation taught me leadership skills, responsibilities, and accountability. A very warm environment, supportive of people and their relationship preference, respectful of me equally, not once was I judged or made uncomfortable. Great thanks to my senior Animal Health Technicians, Kea, Xolani, Tebogo and Pertunia who helped me to understand work better and being patient with me. And a big Thank you as well to colleagues who always showed passion working with Animals.
WILLIAM SETLHAKOANIMAL HEALTH TECHNICIAN AND VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER EASTERN CAPE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – STATE VETERINARY SERVICES
These people that are here for the dogs, they are so good, so caring. You know, I love them because if we have got a problem, we can call them, they come, they assist us.
I know the numbers (Emergency and Hospital number), we just call them they assist us. We’ve got 3 dogs and all of them are sterilised.
RUTHDIEPSLOOT EXT. 2 CONSTITUENT
Wonderful service, professional and excellent care for animals; my Puppy Minnie is was in good hands...stayed weeks with them and came home healthy, happy, and naughty just how I love my dogs! Thank you!
BONGA MHLONGACALATEMBISA CONSTITUENT – SEPTEMBER 2020
The team is professional, organised, with a sterile hospital set up.... I believe what sets it apart is that the field teams collect and deliver animals where generally the pet owners are responsible for bringing their animals in. The field teams also do an incredible job of educating the community of the post-care requirements and regarding pet care in general’. ‘If SAID has the means and the capacity to extend their services, it would be a shame not to!
TAMSINNPO COLLABORATOR AND OWNER - IRWIN ANIMAL RESCUE
The number of people sent by SAID to work enabled them to do the job properly and efficiently. Proper equipment was sent. There were enough proper supplies and experienced personnel. There were properly trained people to educate as well as just do the work. There was transport available to fetch and return dogs.
There was an extremely high level of professionalism, training, knowledge, and co-operation among the SAID people and this made it easier for those of us who are untrained volunteers to be useful and do proper jobs as well. There was a great unity and spirit of caring and co-operation between the SAID staff and the vet Chris was very caring about everyone – leading from the front and checking at night that everyone ate, had what they needed, felt safe, secure and able to sleep. The SAID people were very good with all the locals, from the town and from the township, and there was a very positive and motivated feeling all the time
CERI VON LUDWIGCERI VON LUDWIG ATTORNEY – COMMUNITY ORGANISER AND VOLUNTEER