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The animals that come through our doors suffer from a variety of conditions, but perhaps the most common denominator is the scourge of malnutrition in varying degrees. This means that food is a big, and ongoing, issue for our organisation. Not only do we supplement the food of dogs and cats whose guardians have fallen on hard times, but we also set about building up the underweight or skin-and-bone frames of animals who will eventually find loving homes through the efforts of our organisation.

In this edition we explore the challenge of malnutrition that SA animal welfare faces, because so often it is the more sensational cases of cruelty that make the headlines – as they should – but the numbers of dogs and cats suffering as a result of starvation is staggering.As levels of starvation and cruelty rise, it becomes more important than ever to come up with a response in the form of activism and kindness.

Nobody can afford to be neutral in the fight against animal cruelty and our hearts are continuously warmed by the extent to which people will get involved in this fight.We’ve seen this in recent weeks in the response to our cat and dog food appeals, and we hope you will help our campaign to increase the numbers of dogs and cats we’re able to feed by making a donation of R50 to FEED A DOG FOR A DAY. You will be automatically entered into a competition to win a hamper filled with luxury products worth R8000. You really can’t lose.


One of the greatest challenges we face as a rescue organisation is malnutrition. About 80% of the animals who arrive at our shelter have malnutrition in varying degrees. The skin conditions, infections and diseases they suffer from are often less noticeable than the ribs and spines that signal starvation.

Addressing malnutrition must initially be approached with restraint – too much good nutrition too fast can do more damage than good. Ingesting large quantities of calcium in a short space can make the bones of a puppy with rickets grow too fast and result in a deformed skeleton. The puppies we treat often have stunted growth because mothers do not get enough nutrition herself while feeding them.

Kristen before and after her nutrition plan

Feeding is rehabilitation

For the animals in our care, feeding is not simply a matter of scooping a cup of pellets into a bowl. Each of our dogs and cats have their own tailor-made diet worked out by our animal carers and veterinarian based on their specific needs. This will include supplements and specific types of food – for example, our older dogs are on diets that cater for ailments such as arthritis.

The dogs and cats we rescue have often been forced to survive on dirty water and minimal nutrition and this is why most of them have mange. Clean water plays a key role in their health, and good quality pet food contains higher levels of moisture. You will notice that low-end pellets are hard and dry, whereas pellets with higher nutritional value are oily and moist. This is one way you can judge the quality of the food you buy for your own animals.

The great protein mistake

A mistake made by many animal guardians in the key areas we serve, is to feed their animals leftover human food which is severely lacking in protein (many of the dogs we treat live on a diet of mielie pap, and little else). Dogs need 30% to 40% protein in their diet, while cats need at least 70%. This is why a cat should never be fed dog food –
there simply isn’t sufficient protein for the needs of a feline. Larger quantities of protein is also why cat food costs more than dog food.

The quality of the food we feed our animals at TEARS is directly related to their recovery period and future well-being. All the animals we take in are given probiotics, which helps with their digestion, boosts their immune systems and ensures weak tummies can handle the antibiotics they may need to be on for other ailments. We add omega 3 and 6 supplements to our adult dog food to assist with eliminating mange, and also include a rich formula in the food we give our puppies with mange as opposed to very painful weekly injections.

Sebastian’s story

A heart-warming example of the importance of diet is Sebastian who arrived at TEARS in a terrible state. With the right diet and medical intervention he was adopted and transformed into the dog he was always meant to be.

SA pet food standards

South Africa has regulations around pet food brands and it is important that if you are a cat or dog guardian that you are aware of these so you can be sure you are feeding your animals the level of nutrition they need and deserve.The place to start is by looking at the label. Make sure that the manufacturer is registered with the Department of Agriculture and meets the regulations for the minimum nutritional standard (it should say AAFCO approved).

Are you getting it right?

Don’t be fooled by clever marketing – just because it says the food contains chicken, doesn’t mean it does! This even goes for registered manufacturers – so read the label carefully. This is particularly important if your pet has allergies or other health conditions directly linked to food.

For example: “With chicken flavour” contains only traces of actual chicken, and some brands add essence only – so NO chicken at all. If a product says “High or rich in chicken” this means that there is at least 14% chicken in the food. Bags or tins that state “All chicken” means that your pet is getting more than 65% actual chicken and this is the
level you should be aiming for.

Don’t settle for foods that simply say “meat”, “poultry” or “animal” in the list of ingredients. Ensure that a specific source of meat (for example, lamb or chicken) is mentioned in the top two ingredients and that it is antibiotic and hormone free. These need to be labelled as human grade – don’t feed your pets what you wouldn’t eat yourself!Then there are the basics – avoid artificial colourants and preservatives (these will appear under names such as BHA and BHT) and go for food with added Omega 3 from a high quality fish source (dogs and cats can’t use omega 3s from a vegetable base effectively). Avoid giving milk to them too, as dogs and cats are lactose intolerant and this often results in diarrhoea.

Finally, avoid any food with propylene glycol. This has been linked to anaemia in cats. However, if you follow the guidelines above and buy that treat with “Chicken rich and human grade” on the label, you will certainly be rewarded with lots of happy purrs.

Where we’re at with our cat food appeal (and we need dog food)

A very big thank you to TEARS supporters who responded to our appeal for dog and cat food this month. The response was nothing short of phenomenal. We received donations from as far afield as Johannesburg, and the donations continue to come in. It was incredibly exciting to watch our store rooms go from empty to full. Please feel free to continue to drop off food at our kennels or contact us if you can help us feed our dogs and cats on a bigger scale.

Store 2 Store 1

TEARS PHEnter to win the TEARS Pamper Hamper and feed a dog for a day

TEARS has launched its feed a dog for a day campaign. When you make a donation to the campaign you will be entered in the draw to win a Pamper Hamper filled with luxury products worth R8,000.

It’s a delicious, sweet-smelling example of the best kind of win-win situation: You get a fighting chance at winning a hamper to-die-for. And we get to feed dogs and cats who are in desperate need of nourishment.  [Read more]

Feral-KittenWORLD STERILISATION WEEK:  Celebrating TEARS’ Feral Families

During World Sterilisation Week we thought we’d share the story of the feral cat families that TEARS Animal Rescue cares for around the Cape Peninsula, and the importance that sterilisation plays in their survival.  [Read more…]


Don’t miss the 8-page spread with never before revealed details of TEARS dramatic two-hour evacuations of its kennels late last year. You’ll also get to read the exclusive stories about the heart-warming adoptions that resulted from the evacuation.

Get your copy of Canine Zone now available in most supermarkets.


Recently, a dedicated TEARS supporter, and cat lover, made a generous donation towards the purchasing a van for our Feral Cat Project.  So often it is the private vehicles of our feral cat project volunteers that are used to transport cats to and from their colonies, to our clinic, and back again. Having a vehicle dedicated to the project will make an enormous difference in the number of cats that can be safely transported for treatment and sterilisation.

Although this friend of TEARS would like to remain anonymous we extend our grateful thanks for being a true angel to so many cats who would otherwise be at the mercy of fate, starvation, injury and cruelty. Thank you!

Van3Since TEARS Feral Cat Project is no ordinary programme, this shiny new van deserved some special treatment of its own. TEARS Animal Care Manager, Luke Kruyt, designed the graphics for the van and the generosity of another friend of TEARS – Graphic Laminates – brought Luke’s design’s to life. The branding of our vehicles is far more than pretty pictures. When TEARS wades into the middle of volatile situations to uplift or treat an animal, the signage can stop a crowd from turning on our vehicles and our staff. It also means that the more visible we are, the more likely we are to be flagged down by a person concerned about acts of cruelty perpetrated against animals or for help with their own injured and sick dog or cat.

Graphic Laminates based in Maitland and owned by Garth and Trish Richards, has over the years helped us to keep visible and to, largely, stay safe. We thank them for their service to the animals we treat. The wonderful job on our van was overseen by Kobus Aucamp who runs Graphic Laminates satellite operation in Westlake.

We think there probably isn’t a cat van anywhere in the world that is cooler.

TEARS SLEEPATHON (you heard it here first)

“When we move out of ourselves and into another’s space, seeing the world with them, as if we were them, then we are practicing empathy.” –Arthur Ciaramicoli and Katherine Ketcham

We would like to ask if you would be willing to put your empathy into practice at our TEARS Animal Rescue Sleepathon on either 1 or 2 April 2016. Just you and a rescue dog in a shelter kennel for one night.

Sleep 6Our aims are to: 

  • Raise funds to channel into the lives of the most desperate dogs and cats in the southern peninsula, and
  • Carry out an act of solidarity with all those dogs who at that moment suffer illness, injury, neglect and violence, and who have found no relief yet.

So we invite you to sit beside one of our shelter dogs – the symbol of animal welfare success (one of our lucky ones), in solidarity with those not yet saved, and in order to provide the means for us to reach the unlucky ones; just for one night.

We found this saying that sums up our sleepathon beautifully:

“You don’t always need to walk in another’s shoes to know how they feel. Sometimes the best thing you could do is sit beside them.”

If you would be willing to help us, we’d be thrilled to chat to you about the event. Please email you willingness to take part to or

Each participant will be provided with documentation to raise sponsorship for each hour they spend in the kennel.

We’ll match 65 people with our dogs on each night of the sleepathon and eight people with cats, and of course there will be a few creature comforts thrown in (porta-bathrooms, a sponsored restaurant meal, and you’ll be able to bring along your own folding chairs, blankets, sleeping bags, etc.). It should be an amazing vibe! There are wending houses in some of our bigger enclosures able to accommodate up to three people for the night.  

Coming up:

Soon as possible: Sign-up to our TEARS Sleepathon – get sponsored for each hour you spend in our kennels with one of our shelter dogs. You choose whether you’d prefer either Friday, 1 April or Saturday, 2 April.

24 Feb – 22 March: Feed a dog for a day (or two) by making a donation online – you’ll automatically be entered in our Pamper Hamper draw which takes place on 22 March.

6 March: Kommetjie Road will be closed for the Argus Cycle Tour between 06h45 and 15h00.

27 March: Two-oceans: we’ll be closely watching our two athletes running for TEARS’ dogs and cats. If you’re interested in running for us, let us know.

25 – 28 March: We will be closed for adoptions and open for emergencies only.

13 & 27 March: Volunteer orientations for dog walkers at 4 Lekkerwater Road