Pet food drop-offs support indigent owners

Animal Lifeline volunteer Lindsay Klazinga and Checkers Constantia Emporium manager Adrian Saunders with pet food donated at the store’s drop-off point.

Animal Lifelines’ pet-food drop-offs at Constantia Emporium Checkers and the Constantia Village info kiosk support the pets of indigent owners.

Carynne Hooper, the non-profit company’s managing and operations director, says pet food from the drop-off spots, which were established during lockdown, is distributed to various communities including Kenwyn, Grassy Park, Zeekoeivlei and Parkwood.

Animal Lifeline’s primary goal is prevention and, according to Ms Hooper, this encompasses education and sterilisation in poor communities. “Overpopulation of pets leads directly to neglect, abandonment, mistreatment, abuse and cruelty,” she said.

“While 80% of our resources are applied to ending the cycle of suffering for vulnerable pets in poor communities by focusing on humane solutions to pet overpopulation, we understand that we have a duty to care for the animals we sterilise and a role to play in community support for pets of indigent owners, which accounts for 20% of our resources and effort.”

To that end, the organisation assists owners to care and feed for their animals as much as its funding allows.

“We supply supplemental feed, and in some instances, such as with homeless individuals, Animal Lifeline volunteers physically feed and tend pets that we have sterilised as well as feral cats that have been trapped, neutered and returned. We also do our best to treat for both internal and external parasites,” Ms Hooper said.

Pets of indigent owners are either fed daily or supplied food weekly or monthly depending on the situation and an assessment by volunteers. That assessment, Ms Hooper said, was crucial to ensure that food was not sold by recipients and reached the intended animals.

“We are always positive and seek to understand the conditions that humans are living in, which often dictates how they consider or treat their pets. Our goal is to enhance the human-animal bond. Depending on the community and circumstances, we generally encounter owners doing the best they can,” Ms Hooper said.

“We will not supply feed unless owners allow us to sterilise. We do not charge for sterilisation, but, of course, we have to pay a vet or vet practice for this service. Anyone that reaches out for assistance with food is advised that we can only assist based on the donations we receive and if we are able to sterilise the pets in question. We sincerely believe that feeding unsterilised pets in under-resourced communities encourages the senseless cycle of suffering.”