To really understand the Mdzananda Animal Clinic's work it is essential to understand the Khayelithsa community and its people.
Khayelitsha has a population of approximately 400 000 people (census 2011). The reality is that there is closer to 1 million people. The Western Cape's unemployment rate, on average, is around 34% (with that of Khayelithsa itself likely to be much higher). A typical household consists of 6 adults and a number of children, many of which fall below the poverty line.
It is impractical for most people to be able to afford private or even standard veterinary welfare organisation fees. For this reason, the prices that we charge our clients are very low, not even covering our cost price.
There is very little or no transport for community members to access help for their pets outside of the Khayelitsha area. Most of the time community members can not even access Mdzananda due to the lack of transport. We often have clients visiting Mdzananda pushing their pets in trollies, prams or wheelbarrows for over 10km. For this reason we have mobile clinics to serve many Khayelitsha areas. We also have an ambulance service that collects and delivers animals.
No one is exactly certain how many dogs and cats there are in Khayelitsha but it is estimated that there is a dog and cat for every six people – a staggering 130 000 to 300 000 companion animals (based on above human statistics). The majority of dogs and cats within the community are unvaccinated; this combined with the vast number of animals means infectious diseases are extremely prevalent. The lack of knowledge about animal husbandry predisposes to nutritional and parasitic diseases. The lack of established properties and stray dog population finds many animals roaming the township, predisposing to a large number of road traffic accidents. A large number of pets are also unsterilised meaning a constant increase in animals.
The Khayelitsha Community
The community of Khayelitsha, suffers high rates of violence, preventable disease, and social distress. Children are born into a cycle of poverty and insecurity and grow up believing that rape, hunger, violence and cruelty are norms. Animals are victims of this environment as much as children are and the health of the two are inextricably linked.
The well-being of animals in a community reflects the welfare of the community and particularly that of its most powerless members: children. Animal welfare problems are people problems: to improve animal welfare, people must feel empowered by empathy, knowledge, hope, and the personal reward of seeing another living being thrive as the result of their responsibility. Addressing the physical and psychological needs of people and animals together forms the core concept of the global One Health paradigm. This is the central tenet of the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.