- Five boys from Sweet Home farm informal settlement in Cape Town have been awarded by the Animal Welfare Shelter for rescuing and bringing in an abandoned Labrador.
- Dubbed the "Magnificent Five", the boys also received gifts and food parcels for their families.
- The dog, Champ, has since been adopted and is set to star in a Netflix documentary.
Five boys who rescued an abandoned Labrador they found lying in the bushes in Philippi East, Cape Town, eight months ago received a special surprise recently.
Dubbed the "Magnificent Five", the boys - Zubenathi, Luniko, Onke, Angcobile, and Sibabalo - from Sweet Home farm, an informal settlement near the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWS) in Philippi, found the malnourished dog, which was unable to stand, in bushes.
They managed to find an old leather belt and used it as a collar to lead the dog to the shelter for help.
The dog appeared to be accustomed to wearing a collar because as soon as one of the boys put the belt around his neck, he managed to get himself off the ground, ready to accompany his new friends.
After several hours, the boys managed to get the dog to the shelter, where it was examined and admitted for treatment. Champs' story was shared on social media.
The shelter staff promised the boys they would be rewarded for their good deeds and said they would make sure Champ found a loving home.
True to their word, an awards ceremony was held recently where the boys received certificates of bravery. Local stores Spar and Pick n Pay joined in on the celebrations by donating food and clothing for the boys' families.
The highlight of the ceremony was when Champ made a dramatic appearance looking much healthier and happier. He apparently immediately recognised the boys and trotted straight to seven-year-old Zubenathi, the youngest of the group.
It was a moving moment when Zubenathi placed his hands on Champs' head and bent down to kiss him on the nose.
Speaking to News24, Allan Perrins, the head of communications, resource development and fundraising at AWS SA, said the society had been waiting for an opportune time to present the boys with the gifts flooding in for them. Because of lockdown restrictions, it could not deliver on its promise soon as it would have liked.
The AWS team handed them boxes gifted by the Santa Shoebox Project, and a donor from the UK donated a hamper of nutritious food for the boys.
"The Easter long weekend presented us with an ideal opportunity to surprise the boys who were super excited to receive their spoils from animal care centre supervisor Lawrence Nkotha and trainee inspector Sivuyile Kilwa," said Perrins.
Sueanne McLachlan said they over the moon after adopting Champ as he had brought much joy and light to the family.
"Champ has been an absolute pleasure; all he wants is love and attention. He's very intelligent and learned very quickly to sit and wait for his food," McLachlan said.
Champ is set to star in a Netflix documentary called It's a Dog's Life - From Pavement to Palace which is set to be released mid-June as filming has already wrapped up.
"I was gobsmacked when they approached me to be in a Netflix documentary, but the film crew was lovely, and filming was quite a nice experience," said McLachlan.
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