Dogs evacuated amid protests

2015-10-27 06:00

Tears animal welfare organisation evacuated its kennels and clinic in Lekkerwater Road on Friday in a dramatic operation amid protesting in neighbouring Masiphumelele.

Tears founder and director Marilyn Hoole says: “We’ve been at the Lekker­water Road location for 13 years and have never had to carry out a full evacuation. Friday night’s decision was testimony to just how dangerous the situation in neighbouring Masiphumelele had become for our dogs, staff and supporters.”

Protesting in Masiphumelele began on Friday at 02:00 and Tears’s rescue dogs were becoming increasingly distressed at the sound of sporadic gunfire and tear gas canisters. Non-essential employees were evacuated at 14:00.

By early Friday evening, protesters had taken to Lekkerwater Road, moving as far as Kommetjie Road.

Metal palisades were ripped from the ground, stones thrown and there were reports of rioters firing down on police from rooftops, Hoole says.

“Additional Tears staff were able to get past the police cordon at the Capri/Faerie Knowe intersection and proceeded to Lekkerwater Road. We had no idea what we would find when we turned into Lekkerwater Road, but other than stones strewn across the road, the police had managed to move protesters to the bottom of the road – evident by the glow of burning tyres. The evacuation began with puppies and hospital patients, followed by adult dogs.”

In the meantime, an appeal had gone out on Facebook and Tears supporters and animal lovers came out to help, with a crowd gathering at the Capri/Faerie Knowe intersection.

“We were deeply touched by the helping hands and offers of temporary foster homes for the night,” says Hoole.

“The response was overwhelming; people even risked entering Lekkerwater Road to help our staff and dogs.”

The details of each foster family were noted and between 20:00 and 22:00, 153 dogs were moved to safety.

The risk of a continued spillover of rioting in Masiphumelele on Saturday morning led to a decision to keep Tears’s dogs out of harm’s way until early in the week.

Tears’s animal care manager, Luke Kruyt, says: “With further rioting action rumoured, all Tears dogs and clinic patients are safe and sound in foster homes across the Far South and southern suburbs, at Four Ways Vet and Doggy Style kennels.”

Hoole says: “The events of recent days have undoubtedly been traumatic for all concerned. Our hearts go out to the good people of Masiphumelele who have been caught up in the violence, but what we have witnessed, first-hand, is the worst of times, bringing out the best in people.”

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