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South Africa Spotlight: Building kennels on International Mandela Day

About 130 people honoured Mandela Day by building kennels for the pets of Khayelitsha at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.

Every year, International Mandela Day calls people across the world to take 67 minutes out of their day to make the world a better place.Mandela Day is a celebration of South Africa’s late president Nelson Mandela’s Birthday. Mr Mandela spent 67 years in public service making South Africa and the world a better place.

“Take action, inspire change, make every day a Mandela Day” is the official Mandela Day slogan. About 130 people did just that by spending their time building kennels for the pets of Khayelitsha at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic on the 16thand 18th of July.

This was its 3rd annual kennel building event at Mdzananda, a companion animal project of the International Fund for Animal Welfare based just outside Cape Town, South Africa.

Winter can be very cold in Cape Town with icy temperatures, heavy rains and gale force winds. In the Khayelitsha township, only a small percentage of pets have shelter or are allowed to sleep indoors. Many pets sleep outside without blankets or kennels.

It is not an easy time at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic. Our clinic treats up to 1,000 sick animals per month through consultations, hospitalisation, surgery and mobile clinics. When they arrive at Mdzananda, they are sick, hurt and afraid. Now they are cold too.

During the 2015 winter we had an enormous influx of pets brought to us in hypothermia, a condition of having an abnormally low and dangerously low body temperature. The amount of puppies and dogs admitted to our hospital in this state was overwhelming. We treated them with warm food (some needing force feeding), hot water bottles, warmed IV drips and vigorous body rubbing to help create blood flow and warmth.

Some did not make it, but many were saved.

It comes down to educating the community about taking special care of their pets in winter. Many pets sleep outside on cold surfaces without blankets or kennels. During the time leading up to winter we educate as much as possible on our mobile clinics, in our consultation rooms and on the local radio station. Our aim with the annual kennel build is to make as many kennels as possible, which are distributed in the community to provide shelter for cold pets. We use donated second-hand wooden pallets and every volunteer receives an easy-to-use instruction manual on how to build their kennel.

Saturday the 16th was our public kennel building event. Over 100 people arrived. The day started at 10am and even though we were anticipated ending at 2pm, we finished around 4pm. The volunteers were excited to build their kennels and to ensure that they were beautifully painted and decorated.

The day was filled with a lot of banging, sawing noises and much laughter. The day did not only attract members of the public but children from around the community too. Our visitors welcomed these children into their teams. The kids left at the end of the day carrying the kennels on their shoulders – a new home for their pet.

We use donated second-hand wooden pallets and every volunteer receives an easy-to-use instruction manual on how to build their kennel.

People seem to love every moment. We even received a comment from one volunteer that, “This was by far my best Mandela Day experience I have ever had. See you next year!”

What I love most about our kennel building events is not only the beautiful kennels that are built but seeing strangers from all walks of life come together and work in a team to make a little dog’s life better. There is no space to be shy or hide away at our kennel building events - people team up, plan and work hard to make their kennels perfect.

On Monday 18th three corporate teams joined Mdzananda on Monday the 18th of July, and built four beautiful kennels.

By the end of the two events our volunteers had made 25 weatherproof kennels that have been distributed to pets in the community that do not have shelter.

At the Mdzananda Animal Clinic we believe that a community that loves animals is a healthy community. By looking after an animal people learn responsibility, respect for life, compassion and non-violence. These are valuable attributes which flow over into everyday life. By teaming together to build a kennel many of these attributes visible and being developed further.


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