SEEING a pug at an aftercare facility in Kempton Park, where the owners were no longer able to care for him, gave Cheryl and Malcolm Gaw the inspiration to start an organisation called Pug Rescue South Africa.Pug Rescue South Africa was established in 2008 with the primary purpose to rescue, rehabilitate, re-home and offer sanctuary to all pugs in need in South Africa.Founder and president of Pug Rescue SA, Cheryl said that the project was never meant to grow to the extent that it is today: “We now offer sanctuary to no less than 154 animals on any given day.”Cheryl said that they have rescued over 1 800 animals, of which 253 are non-Pugs, and have also rescued a few cats, two rabbits and two chickens.“We have an outreach programme called Thanda Inja where we take veterinary care to the community in Daveyton. This project has been running for close on five years now,” she said.Cheryl also said that they have an annual Pug Olympics which take place all over South Africa and it is coming to KwaZulu-Natal on October 28 in Pinetown.“At the event in Pinetown there will be a 20-metre track where owners and their pugs and other small-breed dogs can have fun. The dogs need to get over obstacles and there is also a spoon and potato race for dog and owner.“It is all about having fun, a good laugh and at the same time raising much-needed funds to continue caring for the animals in our care,” said Cheryl.She said that the event is to raise funds for the homeless Pugs in SA and an outreach programme in Daveyton where they focus on sterilisation and clinic services for sick dogs and cats.In conclusion, she appealed to the community to open their hearts and homes to rescued animals irrespective of the breed they are interested in. “There are so many beautiful dogs and cats in rescue organisations through no fault of their own, waiting for a second chance. There is no better feeling than to give a rescued animal a loving home and believe me, the animals are just as grateful.“To the backyard breeders — you have no idea what you are creating. There are not enough homes for all the animals. South Africans are leaving the country and downscaling due to financial challenges. Adopt, don’t shop,” said Cheryl.