Animal activist is Bloem's biggest superhero

2015-07-16 12:18

Bloemfontein – In the movies superheroes have big muscles and superpowers, but one of Bloemfontein’s real-life superheroes comes in the shape of a little old lady with a big love for animals.

Judy van Zyl has been involved in animal welfare for the past 30 years, the last 14 of which have been as the founder and only fulltime member of Pet Action, an independent pet welfare organisation.


Judy feeds a hungry hound. (Dirk Lotriet, News24)

Judy has a stall at the Vryfees, the Free State Arts Festival, which is held at the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus, where she sells dog jackets and blankets and receives donations from the public.

“It is going well,” she said on Wednesday. “We made R1 220 on our first day.”

Not giving up

Judy helps between 50 and 60 animals in the Free State capital’s poorer areas with food, medical services, blankets, sterilisation and owner education.

“It is tough at times,” Judy said as News24 accompanied her on her rounds on Wednesday.

“It is not easy to get financial backing for the work we do. I have never in my 30 years as an animal welfare activist drawn a salary, and some of our six volunteers often sacrifice the biggest part of their salaries to enable us to do what we do.”  

Judy worked for the SPCA for several years, followed by employment with other animal welfare organisations before she founded Pet Action.

Sometimes she feels like giving up.

“I told one of the vets in the city that I am often tempted to throw in the towel. He said: ‘Judy, what you are doing makes a big difference. You can’t just leave it’.”

She says they have found a dire need for pet welfare in Bloemfontein. The biggest problems are ignorance and poverty as well as when people give pets as gifts to people who are unable to care for them.

Dealing with difficult people

“Pets are entrusted to us from above. One day, we will have to explain how we lived up to that trust,” Judy said.

“Sometimes, people are simply too poor to look after their pets as well as they should, and then we are glad to help. Simply because people are not in a good financial position at that particular time, does not mean they love their animals any less than people who have money.

“Sometimes I speak to people about the way they treat animals, and it helps. But sometimes it is a waste of time. If it is a particularly difficult person, it is as good as pouring petrol over a smouldering devil.”

She says that she often faces severe resistance from people who abuse their pets.

“I have been threatened that my throat will be cut, but I can’t allow people to intimidate me. I simply ask: ‘Who do you think you are to prescribe to my Creator when my time on this earth should be over?’”

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  good news  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
16 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.