Pets dying from cold at needy animal clinic

2015-06-30 11:30
(Mdzananda Animal Shelter)

(Mdzananda Animal Shelter)

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Cape Town - After a number of its four-legged patients died because of the cold, a welfare organisation in Khayelitsha launched a desperate appeal to animal lovers to help spread the warmth.

Mdzananda Animal Clinic, which operates from six recycled shipping containers in the heart of the community, treats up to 1 000 sick animals a month through consultations, hospitalisation, surgery and mobile clinics. 

But money is standing in the way of the healing process for post-op pets. 

Two puppies died last week and a few did not make it through surgery last winter because of hypothermia, Mdzananda director Felipe Perdomo told News24.

And with electricity costs running up to R2 000 a week, the organisation has had to resort to finding alternative ways to keep the animals warm.


“There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a dog shiver uncontrollably as its teeth chatter because it is freezing,” Perdomo said.

“But that is the sad reality. It is essential to keep an animal warm after surgery but at times all we can do is wrap the patients in blankets because we can’t afford to keep the heaters on.”

Hospital manager and veterinary nurse Sister Ros Stone said after any anaesthetic, the body’s blood pressure drops and keeping warm is imperative.

“It’s absolutely critical that our hospital can be heated because there is always a risk that an animal can go into post-anaesthetic shock and die. The cold is a contributing factor to this,” she said.

Most operations are to repair the broken limbs of dogs who have been hit by cars, Stone said, rubbing the head of one of the recovering patients.

To retain as much heat inside the containers as possible, bubble wrap has been placed on the windows and each dog has its own blanket. Opening doors is limited to keep the cold out.

'Saving our animals'

Archie Masinga, who brought his dog Chippa to Mdzananda after it was unable to walk on one of its paws, said if he had the money, he would “give it all to these amazing doctors, who I would even trust with my own life”.

“These people are saving our animals. My Chippa would not be with me today if it were not for them,” he said.

“If I had the means, I would give them a portion of my salary. But with one daughter in high school and another in university, I am barely able to keep my own head above water. 

“I give only what I can and that is not enough to take their worries away.”

Perdomo said a common misconception is that poor people don’t take care of their pets.

“This is as far from the truth as you can get. We once had a woman push her dog with a broken paw into our premises in a pram. It was snugly wrapped in a blanket and plastic because it was raining,” he said.

“Your economic circumstances don’t dictate your love for your pet. I see that here every day.”

Financial burden

But finances are a heavy burden for the organisation, which was started in 1996.

Mdzananda, the only permanent veterinary facility that services the pets of more than a million people living in Khayelithsa, is reliant on donations to keep its doors open.

While it has a generator for use during load shedding, this is very seldom switched on because the running costs are too high.

“It’s not uncommon to walk into the surgery and find our team with torches in their mouths to provide light while they operate on an animal,” Perdomo said.

“Winter is not an easy time here. When the animals arrive at Mdzananda they are sick, hurt and afraid. Now they are cold too.”

Perdomo and his fundraising team are on a mission to find money or donations to pay for the thermal insulation of the operating theatre, bubble wrap for the windows, polar fleece blankets, hot water bottles and e-heater panels.

“Every little bit will help. Even R10 will do,” he said.

- See the clinic's Facebook page for more details.

Watch a video from Mdzananda animal shelter below:

Read more on:    cape town  |  animals

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