Women’s war on dog smuggling


A cellphone rings and suddenly there’s a flurry of activity in the office of the National Animal Welfare Task Team (NAWTT) in Pinelands, Cape Town.

“Eight dogs are being taken to Angola. We have to stop them,” manager Mariette Hopley announces.

She’s received a tip-off that suspected animal smugglers are allegedly taking stolen dogs to a veterinarian who they’d asked to provide the documentation needed to take the animals across the Namibian border and eventually into Angola.

The dogs face a cruel fate: they will either be used in fatal dogfights or be smeared with blood and used as bait to make fighting dogs more vicious.

But Mariette and her team are ready to come to their rescue. In 2003 this veteran animal activist accompanied 150 armed soldiers to the Baghdad Zoo to rescue stressed animals from the warfare that engulfed Iraq.

Now she leads a campaign to free stolen dogs from the clutches of criminal cross-border traffickers. Some people call her South Africa’s Ace Ventura, the pet detective played by Jim Carrey in the movies.

Read more of Pieter van Zyl’s article in YOU 6 December 2012.

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