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What is the purpose of a dog in Khayelitsha?

Here is Bongiwe and Sweetie Girl's story

Sweetie Girl was adopted from Mdzananda as a tiny puppy. Her mommy, Bongiwe, fell in love with her even though she was covered with mange and sickly. She received treatment and, when she was strong enough, went to her new home for Bongiwe to take care of her. Thanks to a lot of love, patience and treatment, Sweetie grew into a beautiful girl. Bongiwe visited us often. We watched Sweetie Girl grow and blossom. Bongiwe told us many stories of the things Sweetie did and proudly showed us beautiful pictures on her phone. She said that, every morning when she wakes up, Sweetie jumps onto the bed for morning snuggles. But then disaster struck... Sweetie Girl went missing... Friends came to visit one day and, on leaving, Sweetie slipped out. She ran down the road. Bongiwe and her family chased after her but she was gone. The devastation this family went through is something only another person who has lost a pet will understand. Bongiwe didn't sleep for nights. We helped as much as we could. We printed posters and, together with Bongiwe, stuck them up around the community. For an entire month Bongiwe was heart-broken. Where was her beloved baby? Was she hurt? Was she hungry? Was she alive? Bongiwe and her family started giving up hope. And then a miracle happened... A whole month later Sweetie Girl returned home. We don't know where she she'd been and we don't know how she found her way home, but she did. She was disoriented and tired when she arrived home but the family was overjoyed to see her. She was smothered with love, back in her warm bed and back with her loving family. Sweetie Girl and Bongiwe tell the story of great love between a Khayelitsha pet and pet owner.

How many times do we hear people say, "People in townships shouldn't have pets"? or "Remove all the animals from townships." Yes, its something we hear often. Imagine taking Sweetie Girl away from Bongiwe simply because she lives in a township. It is a stereotype that is all too often thrown around. At Mdzananda we are proud to say that we see up to 700 pets per month. Very rarely do we see cases of abuse. We do see neglect cases but generally, these are due to a misunderstanding of pets' needs. We help by educating. Of course, not everyone loves their animals as much as Bongiwe loves Sweetie Girl but this is true for every community. Sadly we will always have bad apples who misuse animals, use them for financial gain, abuse them and neglect them. And there are many such people. We will keep fighting against them and we will keep educating our customers. We will keep going and, with your support, we will keep helping the animals and keep changing mindsets. Hopefully one day everyone will love their animals like Bongiwe loves Sweetie Girl.

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