Help needed for dumped animals

Barefoot Rescue founder Michelle du Toit with a kitten, Rudy, dumped on Military Road

There has been an increase in the dumping and surrendering of animals during the recent lockdown, according to a non-profit animal-rescue organisation in Tokai.

Since June last year, Michelle du Toit, founder of Barefoot Rescue, has gone through 39 litters of kittens. Many had to be hand-raised, which has meant little sleep for her.

Re-home, rehabilitate, release, assist, advocate, educate are what Barefoot Rescue does for cats, small animals and birds.

A one-eyed cat sits in the sun at the entrance to the house. Birds fly around cages and a duck waddles through water, but it’s the recently rescued cats, a kitten and guinea pigs that concern Ms Du Toit.

A room inside the spacious home is a refuge for dumped animals.

Ms Du Toit said the latest rescue is a three-week-old kitten covered with fleas and dumped on Military Road by a neighbourhood watch patroller.

A few days before, a double rescue took place in the basement of a nearby shopping mall. It took days of perseverance to coax the cat and kitten into a trap. First came the ten week-old kitten that was named Blue, and later, came an 18-month-old black-and-white cat that was named Romeo. Blue has since found a home, and Ms Du Toit said Romeo was now sterilised, vaccinated and “ready for a forever home”.

Another cat, Oreo, was found on Boyes Drive and has a microchip. Ms Du Toit learnt that the family had dumped the cat because they got a new kitten.

In another case, two long-haired kittens were dumped on the same night in separate places. They had matching flea collars which were not working and the kittens were full of fleas. Both kittens have been re-homed together however a dog ate their mother.

“A breeder believes it’s good for a cat to have a litter. He then drowns the kittens. It’s lack of education, income and stupidity,” said Ms Du Toit.

Ms Du Toit said she sterilises and microchips all rescue animals as soon as possible, even the rabbits. She also vets the animals’ new home. “For example,” she said, “Syrian hamsters need exercise, an adequate wheel. If it’s too small they damage their backs.”

In a larger cage, are guinea pigs, found in a cardboard box at Vredekloof dam, Brackenfell. One was heavily pregnant and gave birth to four tiny bundles. Ms Du Toit has 39 guinea pigs looking for homes.

In another cage is a fat rabbit whose Claremont owners upped and left. They took the furniture but left their pets, including dogs, rabbit and guinea pigs.

Public comment of the City’s draft revised Animal Keeping Policy ended on Monday May 17. It was first introduced in 2005. The City wants most pets, including cats, dogs and horses, to be registered to beef up its animal protection efforts.

Ms Du Toit, who commented on the policy, said: “It’s a difficult policy, a one size does not fit all, and it presently targets the leafy suburbs, but does not talk to animals on chains on the Cape Flats. The policy speaks about neglect but does not define what neglect is. It will also mean enrichment of the City due to fees paid to register animals.”

She said it should be mandatory to sterilise all domestic mammals by six months, and that every critter homed (adopted or bought) should be microchipped, from parrots and rabbits to cats and dogs. If microchip numbers could be linked to owner identity numbers, the start of a tracking system would be in place.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith appealed to pet owners to try to rehome or surrender their animals to shelters instead of dumping them.

“We urge the public to ensure that their pets are sterilised. The issue of unwanted litters is not new, and now, more than ever, it is the most humane thing to do, given that fewer people have capacity to adopt,” he said.

Mzwakhe Nqavashe, chairperson of the City’s safety and security portfolio committee, said the revised Animal Keeping By-law was out for public comment until Monday August 2.

To find out how you can help Barefoot Rescue, email barefootrescue@gmail.com, call 082 780 3955 or visit the organisation’s Facebook page.

Homes are needed for 39 guinea pigs found in a cardboard box at Vredekloof dam, in Brackenfell.
Romeo is sterilised, vaccinated and is ready for a forever home.
Barefoot Rescue founder Michelle du Toit checks on Lena.
Michelle du Toit’s son, Luke, 10, with his adopted cat Max. Luke has spent many hours creating mazes, castles, ramps, and piles of boxes for Max to explore and climb.