It is dog eat dog for the packs of dogs that usually scavenge through rubbish bins for food, as their owners are too poor to feed them.
But enter the meals-on-wheels for these dogs in Swakopmund’s underprivileged areas and these dogs’ fortunes improved drastically. This after a dedicated mother and daughter team established a non-profit feeding scheme for dogs.
This charity is hard at work ensuring disowned and starving animals are regularly fed.
‘Feed-A-Paw’ has been an answer to the plight of those animals in the less fortunate areas that are otherwise left to fend for themselves due to the abject poverty facing many people.
Caring for the less fortunate animals is a calling they say, as these two kind and compassionate women were touched by the plight of disowned pets particularly dogs that fend for themselves. Madelaine Strydom and her 22-year-old daughter, Michelle, started the non-profit Feed-A-Paw project after witnessing the overwhelming need of street pets and they extended a helping hand.
This is the only project of its kind in Namibia, and is driven by these two caring women who pay regular visits to the townships of DRC and Mondesa where they feed up to 500 dogs and numerous feral cats once a week.
They have built up a good relationship with most of the dog owners, who rely on the regular feeding days to sustain their animals, and are regular and welcome visitors to these areas.
Dogs that are neglected, malnourished, sick or dying are given priority, and a special trip is made in addition to the two feeding days to collect animals desperately in need of veterinary care.
These are animals that have been either run over, injured, stabbed or otherwise need to be treated for tick bite fever, STD (sexually transmitted disease), mange – which is endemic in the damp conditions of Swakopmund – and other illnesses.
“These are the forgotten animals that no one cares about,” said Madelaine, who said they started ‘Feed-A-Paw’ project after Michelle had made numerous visits through the areas with her father, a contractor, and noticed the terrible condition of these unfortunate pets. The two swung into action, and not long thereafter, mother and daughter set out with a bakkie laden with food. Now one year later, and hundreds of trips into the DRC and Mondesa they are still going strong and have turned around the lives of those animals that would have normally died from starvation or disease.
“We could not turn a blind eye on the suffering around us, and started the ‘Feed-A-Paw’ project to not only feed the animals, but also provide vet care to the sick and injured as there are no clinics for these people to take their pets to,” explained Madelaine, who said that they have an account at the Swakop Vet Clinic where Good Samaritans can help by contributing towards the vet bill.
“We rely heavily on funds and donations because even though we put a lot in ourselves, the costs are mounting, as we take on more animals,” she added, saying that her family funded the project out of their own pocket for the first few months before they received any donations.
About 30 kilogrammes of mealie-meal is cooked up every week, mixed in with vegetable peels and left over foods donated by shops and restaurants, which fills four huge cooler boxes for each feed.
‘Feed-A-Paw’ also works closely with the national charity drive Have-A-Heart sterilisation campaign to prevent the suffering of unwanted litter in the townships. The 2015 Have-A-Heart Spayathon kicked off in Swakopmund earlier this year, and animals for the Spayathon were selected by Madelaine and Michelle, who were familiar with both the condition and health status of most of the dogs living in the DRC. Dr Desmond Stafford, who runs the non-profit sterilisation organisation in South Africa and has conducted a number of HAH Spayathon campaigns in Namibia, spayed nearly 100 DRC pets in just three days.
He also said that never before had he seen animals living in a township environment looking so good, all thanks to the Feed-a-Paw project.
All donations are welcome to keep this project going. ‘Feed-A-Paw’ Facebook page has all the details where a financial donation can be made into the vet account.