TEARS’ Community Welfare Veterinary Hospital has a proud history of providing animal medical services to low-income households (those with a total household income of less than R12,000 per month for sterilisations at a welfare rate and less than R9,000 per month for procedures at a welfare rate), as well as sterilising and treating animals brought to us as a result of various outreach projects, such as our Feral Cat Project.
Clinic & Mobile Units
Our hospital is staffed by one full-time veterinarian and four veterinary assistants who focus on sterilisation, but are able to treated most injuries and illnesses.
One of the core aims of the clinic is to control the unwanted births of dogs and cats in low-income areas, and sterilisation of all treated animals is mandatory. Sterilisation drives, including door-to-door canvassing, have resulted in fewer unwanted puppies and kittens in our regularly serviced areas.
Taking our health services to the streets
Our clinic staff operate two Mobile Clinic vans that, on a pre-arranged schedule, serve the low-income areas of Vrygrond, Ocean View, Mountain View, Redhill, Westlake and Masiphumelele. They offer primary healthcare for animals in these communities as well as free sterilisations, which is carried out at our hospital. Animals to be sterilised, or those who need further care, are transported to our on-site hospital for veterinary attention.
TEARS Mobile Clinic schedule:
- Monday: 10:00 to 10:30 in Ocean View next to the Civic Centre
- Monday: 10:40 to 11:00 in Ocean View, Lapland (next to Jehovah’s Witness Hall)
- Monday: 14:00 to 14:00 in Vrygrond, Overcome Heights (next to church)
- Wednesday:10:00 to 10:30 in Ocean View, Jupiter Road (next to Graveyard)
- Wednesday: 10:40 to 11 in Ocean View, Mountain View Entrance
- Friday: 14:00 to 14:20 in Vrygrond, Corner Liberty/Berg Road (next to taxi rank)
- Friday: 14:20 to 14:50 in Vrygrond, Overcome Heights (next to church)
- Sunday: 10:00 to 11:00 in Masiphumelele, Pokela Road (next to the clinic)
- Sunday: 11:30 to 12:30 in Ocean View, next to the Civic Centre
TEARS Mobile Clinic in the News
By Ashleigh Furlong
Mobile clinic makes a huge difference for pet owners in working class neighbourhoods
Sheeba peeks out of a small cage in the TEARS mobile animal clinic, a van that travels to Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Vrygrond a number of times a week, providing vital primary care to the four legged creatures that live in these communities.
Sheeba, a tan and white mongrel, has just been sterilised and is being taken back to Vrygrond to be reunited with her two puppies.
Eric Ndzube is one of two men who take turns to drive the van, collecting dogs and cats for sterilisation, administering injections and educating pet owners about animal care.
Ndzube, joined TEARS (The Emma Animal Rescue Society) in 2013. He administers vaccinations and other injections for diseases such as mange, conducts basic health assessments on the animals, and drives the van. He says he has only been bitten by a dog once, when he first began working at TEARS, saying with a laugh that this was his “welcoming”.
The van is essential for Vrygrond as most of the pet owners do not have the means to take their pets to TEARS in Sunnydale, 30 minutes’ drive away.
When the van leaves TEARS on a sweltering hot Friday afternoon bound for Vrygrond, it is spotless; the cages are cleaned, the medication is packed and Sheeba has been loaded into the back.
At the clinic’s first stop, the Vrygrond taxi rank, a man brings Danger, a flea ridden but friendly pit bull. He says his dog is not eating properly. Ndzube conducts a standard inspection – feeling the dog’s body, checking his mouth, and asking its owner various questions. The dog needs to be dewormed, but the owner must return on Monday when he has the medication with him. The owner also buys a R15 flea dip, a popular item from the clinic.
Ndzube says that most of the items available from the mobile clinic are discounted such as the flea dip and the vaccinations, but sterilisation is completely free. Despite this, when Sheeba is dropped off, her owner donates R50 to TEARS. Ndzube says that the residents in the communities he services appreciate TEARS’s work; they can see the difference that TEAR’s presence has had on their animals. People continually stop the van as it drives around, asking for help to care for their animals.
At the clinic’s second stop, Kim, a mange covered pit bull, is administered an injection for his mange. Ndzube says that before Kim started the treatment, she was covered in sores and that her current near hairless state is actually a great improvement.
Ndzube then has to ask a family for permission for TEARS to put their dog to sleep as its leg was shattered when it was run over by a car earlier in the week. The owners hold each other tearfully as Ndzube explains the situation.
He says that this is one of the most stressful parts of his job, and that it is also very difficult to ask someone to surrender their animal to TEARS if the owner is unable to afford the vet bill or unable to adequately look after their pet.
Ndzube leaves Vrygrond with a small injured dog in the back – another hit and run; this time, the dog has a bone protruding from its hip, which Ndzube says will probably result in a leg amputation.
“It is stressful,” he says of the work on the mobile clinic, “I have to do all the check-ups and [give] medication. I need to have a lot of attention and focus.”
Consulting alone with patients also requires constant concentration as he needs to assess whether the animal needs to be brought into TEARS to see the vet or whether he can administer the medication himself.
Despite this, Ndzube manages to calm anxious pet owners and never seems flustered. The animals’ wellbeing always appears to be in the forefront of his mind.
“When an animal is sick they can’t talk, but you can see they are suffering,” says Ndzube. “It is a sad thing when you hear the noise of a dog or cat crying”.