This slideshow requires Adobe Flash Player 9.0 (or higher). JavaScript must be enabled.


South Africa Animal Rescue

Photographer: Nic Bothma


A township such as Khayelitsha suffers from high rates of violence, poverty, disease and social distress. Children are born into a cycle of poverty and insecurity believing that rape, hunger, violence, and cruelty are norms. Animals are victims of this environment as much as humans are and the health of the two is undoubtedly linked.


According to Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manager at Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha “At Mdzananda 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.” Mdzananda Animal Clinic has been serving animals and their community for twenty years is in the midst of a campaign to provide medical treatment to 12 000 animals. Animal abuse and neglect is part of everyday life in townships across South Africa with some of the poorest communities in Khayelitsha being home to the most vulnerable animals in the greater Cape Flats area.


The Khayelitsha township is home to an estimate of 500 000 people and their 170 000 pets. The majority of dogs and cats are unvaccinated, which means infectious diseases are extremely prevalent. Pets are unsterilized and this leads to a constant increase in animals. There is a great lack of knowledge about animal husbandry, leading to nutritional and parasitic diseases. The lack of established properties and stray dog population results in many animals roaming the township and becoming victims of motor vehicle accidents. These are only a few examples of the challenges animals face in a township environment. “There is often the opinion that people in townships should not own pets. We have a different opinion. Anyone who visits Mdzananda has the pleasure of meeting owners who adore their animals. Lack of education and funds are what generally results in neglect, illnesses, and injuries. We work on educating the community while providing low-cost veterinary services,” says du Plessis.


The Mdzananda Animal Clinic serves up to 1000 animals per month through consultations, hospitalization and surgery for sick and injured animals, primarily dogs and cats. Other services provided include performing continuous sterilizations, rehoming unwanted or abandoned pets and assisting with cases of neglect or abuse. With 31% of the households in Khayelitsha falling below the poverty line of $121 / Rands1845 per household per month, it is impossible for most people to afford private or even standard veterinary welfare organization fees. There is also little to no transport for community members to access help for their pets outside the Khayelitsha area. The Mdzananda Animal Clinic offers low-cost veterinary services, generally not even covering their cost price.


Apart from the permanent clinic, the Mdzananda Animal Mobile Clinics reach areas of the community that are beyond walking distance from the clinic. Mobile Clinics help to make services for pets easily accessible including an ambulance service that collects and delivers animals. The Mdzananda Animal Clinic has a strong focus on community empowerment and education believing that only through education can we make a lasting impact in the lives of animals and their human companions.


Support for the campaign to change 12.000 township pets’ lives can be given by visiting the organizations website