The seeds that would eventually grow into TEARS Animal Rescue were planted when three women – Emma Geary-Cooke, Joan Bown and Marilyn Hoole – visited Masiphumelele with a bucket of tick dip and a packet of deworming tables. It was the desperate state of the dogs and cats they found in this impoverished area that motivated the women to begin to dream of starting an organisation that would alleviate the suffering of the animals they were trying to help, but on a much larger and more effective scale.
Tragically, Emma was killed in a car accident. Devastated but undaunted, Joan and Marilyn were determined to carry Emma’s dream forward.
In January 1999 The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) was established in her memory.
At this time the plight of domestic animals in Masiphumelele had reached a crisis point. Mange was rife and many animals were skeletal – their guardians living in abject poverty, sometimes unable to feed themselves. De-worming, vaccinations and sterilisation were unheard of. Female dogs suffered from malnutrition and were unable to feed their puppies; many died.
TEARS had started a clinic in Masiphumelele by March 1999, treating animals for fleas, mange and tick infestation. Food parcels were handed out. Animals needing veterinary attention and sterilisation were identified and arrangements made to have them treated by local vets.
Founder, Marilyn, says, “We began to accumulate unwanted and stray animals and desperately needed facilities in which to house them. We began to rent kennels in Ottery for our rescued dogs. Cats, kittens and puppies were housed at the home of a TEARS’ committee member in Muizenberg, which also served as TEARS Headquarters.”
TEARS was later able to move to rented premises in Sunnydale and has grown into an established and sustainable non-profit organisation with a compliment of over 50 staff caring for around 300 dogs and cats on site at any given time.
Wenga Farm, bought by the organisation in 2007, houses the TEARS Cattery, its boarding facility, the Feral Cat Project and a small clinic.