Our staff continuously carry out rescues of domestic animals – as well as a variety of other animals – throughout the year. Each rescue is different; every life precious. Here are a few of our stories.
Jaque – an adolescent pit bull cross – was rescued from Mountain View informal settlement in May 2014. He was little more than a bag of bones, weighing just 10.4kgs, his skin taut over his skeleton, every bone in his fragile body visible.
In additional to being severely malnourished, he was infested with worms and had Ehrlichia (a tick-borne parasite). Jaque was in such a poorly condition that the days immediately following his rescue and admission to TEARS, were touch-and-go.
Jaque wasn’t ready to give up yet on life and fought to make a remarkable recovery. He steadily got stronger and the light returned to his eyes as he began to gain weight. Jaque finally reached 21 kilos and every inch of his body smiled. With patience and perseverance, Jaque had turned into a beautiful boy who got along well with other dogs and was always up for a game of fetch.
Jaque was soon adopted into a loving home and now lives in the lap of luxury with his new guardian, Megan. He continues to be a breed ambassador, breaking stereotypes and making friends wherever he goes.
Skye – a Siberian Husky, was rescued on Baden Powell Drive in Cape Town on 22 January 2014, in an horrific state. She was emaciated, skin hanging loosely over her bones. She was also suffering from sarcoptic mange and her skin was raw and infected, nothing more than tufts of hair covered her gaunt body in patches. Skye also had Ehrlichia – a tick-borne, bacterial infection that destroys white blood cells. Such was the advanced severity of the infection, she needed a blood transfusion to save her life.
Skye received all the love, care, food and veterinary treatment she needed to flourish while she was at TEARS. Her improvement was slow but steady, and every day was a transformation to the stunning dog she now is.
Skye – having blossomed into a fun-loving, charismatic dog – was adopted by a wonderful family who understood her breed and had another Siberian Husky called Magnum. This tenacious dog’s recovery really does prove that with the right intervention and caring, the Skye really is the limit.
In October 2015, TEARS took the decision to evacuate its kennels as a precautionary measure when riots broke out in Masiphumelele that borders our shelter. Many TEARS supporters came out that night to help staff, and a number of adoptions resulted from subsequent foster failures. Bonnie was one of those dogs. Here her guardian [to follow] tells the story of her home-coming.
“I picked Bonnie up from a foster parent following the evacuation of the kennels during the Masiphumelele riots. Bonnie’s previous foster mom had to find alternative accommodation for her as Bonnie was wreaking havoc with her dog and her foster sister, Livia.
“I brought a shy, insecure puppy home and only once I took her out of the car did I notice that her right front paw had at some point been severely mangled and subsequently reconstructed. When I put her down on the lawn she would not stop rolling on it. Everything was something new to her. Laylah, our Labrador, played babysitter for the remainder of the day. That night I found her and Coco, our eldest dog, snuggled up on the couch. It definitely was love.
“By day two, she had figured out that Diesel, her big brother, would be her best-friend. I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that they played for two to three hours at a time, then they’d nap, wake up and play again. What astounded me was how gently Diesel (a significantly muscular and long-legged Staffie/Collie cross) played with her. It was as if he were coaxing her into realising that she was allowed to be a dog; that she was welcome, and, most importantly, could enjoy being in this place.
“By day three, Bonnie had started to climb onto my lap where I was in my office chair. I could not powder my nose without her pining at the door. But the reality loomed at the back of my mind that, sooner than later, she would have to go back and I was apprehensive about forming a bond with her because I knew that both her heart and mine would be broken when the day came to return her to TEARS.
“I nevertheless decided to ask TEARS about her history: she had been driven over by a car and her paw had to be built up again. She had been through quarantine twice; once due to protocol and once again as a friend to another pup called Hoover. Essentially, no one wanted her and it seemed as if she was just another canine in the system. But in the space of two or three days, she became so much more to us.
“Bonnie still had her milk teeth when I got her. I found myself finding things that I could help her with: her dislike of cars, her insecurity, her teeth, the fact that she loved sleeping on feet and that I happen to have two, all while watching her develop so quickly, and watching so many “firsts”: her first time being bathed in a lukewarm bath in my bathroom (where you could see that she wanted to enjoy the water but didn’t know what to do), her first lamb rib bone, cheese curl, her first trip in the back of the bakkie with her siblings (and the hierarchal fight with her three sisters and brother for the cabin window).
“All of this had happened within the space of a few days. But now Bonnie would have to be returned to TEARS on the Monday. Wednesday I e-mailed TEARS for the adoption papers despite trying to convince myself that I could not keep her; but every night she would wiggle onto the bed and either sleep on my chest (quite literally on top of me) or in my arms.
“That Monday I returned TEARS’ leash, and by Wednesday, Bonnie was officially adopted by me. I wish the story was more sensational with an epiphany or some life-changing event but the truth of the matter is that Bonnie simply integrated herself into life at home.
“The turning point came one night, after a long summer’s evening on the stoep when I got up to use the restroom and closed the door behind me. My partner, Michiel, remarked: “Ek kan sien hierdie is jou hond.” (I can see this is your dog) because she had stood against the window watching me walk inside and had begun to pine for me. I remember thinking to myself that she’s so tiny and quiet and what difference would it make whether I had one more?
“In the two months following her adoption, Bonnie learned to sit quietly and contently in a car (on my lap, of course) and began to run the house. Even Maddie, the most apprehensive of our dogs, played with her as if she had been here all along.
“Bonnie also loves the swimming pool; yapping away at any water splashed in her direction, and waiting patiently for her brother, Diesel, to fetch or dive out a ball which they then share when he swims out. She also loves chasing him around the pool; both out and in the water, although she is still building up the guts to get in herself (even though you can see she really wants to!). She also has her own personal armchair on which she has made herself at home since day one, and has a section in a cupboard in which she absolutely loves to sleep, although we have no idea why.
“Bonnie has never felt like a ‘new’ dog. She sort of pitched up, and made herself at home. She has bloomed from a dog who was scared of loud footsteps to one who challenges even the largest of Labradors. Despite it feeling like she’s just always been here, it would simply not be the same now if I were to wake up without having my toes bitten, or my ear licked.
THE RESCUER’S CREED
I shall be a believer in all that is good in man and all that is deserving in animals.
I shall plead for animals’ lives, campaign for their safety, and uphold their right to a happy life and a natural death.
I shall seek out the injured and the maimed, the unloved and the abandoned, and tend to them in their last days.
I shall renew their spirits when they are waning, bind their wounds when they bleed, cradle them when they whimper,
And comfort them when they mourn.
I shall not forget their place in the hierarchy of life, nor that we walk in each other’s paths.
I shall bear witness to the wonder they bring into our lives and to the beauty they bestow upon our souls.
I shall be near them in their hour of greatest need – a companion and a friend.
From the creatures of the earth I shall learn the fruits of compassion and undying love.
In their company I shall indeed be blessed.