The two-day Swakopmund ‘Have-A-Heart’ (HAH) township spayathon’ ended on a high note this weekend, with over 60 animals sterilised in an effort to reduce the epidemic of unwanted litters and put a lid on animal suffering.
Nearly 300 animals in Swakopmund were spayed this year, neutered and treated through this programme, which is running countrywide, in what was the biggest of three spayathons at the coast this year.
The sterilisation project took place in a ‘Scenic Air’ aircraft hangar at the Swakop airport, which was converted during the procedure into a fully functional veterinary clinic. A tireless team of three dedicated local female vets sterilised 53 dogs and nine cats. The animals were all vaccinated and treated against parasites, as well as mange.
The spayathon was coordinated by Swakopmund vet Dr Saskia Stam, who was joined by Dr Tharina Sorensen and Windhoek vet Dr Mayer Dahlberg, together with HAH volunteers and Feed-A-Paw project. The animals were selected from the DRC informal settlement by the ‘Feed a Paw’ crew, who through their weekly distribution of dog food to the homes of the needy established relationships with many petowners. They took multiple trips to the DRC settlement, fetching and dropping off the “patients”, once the operations were completed.
One of the main HAH organisers, Geesche Neuburg, said the spayathon exceeded expectations and was well supported by volunteers. Neuburg, who has been involved with countless spayathons over the years in Lüderitz, Aus, Bethanie, Swakopmund and the Spitzkoppe community, mentioned that the education they are providing through the sterilisation programme is making a huge difference and is changing the mindset of the people towards caring for their animals.
“This work is desperately needed by the poor people, because they have no money or vet care and don’t know where to go to help their animals,” said Neuburg.” There are a lot of animals that need help, but because of the lack of clinics and treatment in these settlements the animals are left to suffer. The situation all over the country is dire and by preventing unwanted litters we are reducing the animal population, because people do not have the means to look after all the dogs and cats breeding in the townships.
“We have requests from Opuwo to Karasburg to bring in the spayathon teams, but the only thing holding us back is the funds – otherwise we would do this non-stop,” she added. It was mentioned that there needs to be more support from government and the municipalities to fund sterilisation campaigns and vet care countrywide for the poor, to reduce the roaming dog populations.
The Have-A-Heart project is a national charity-driven spay and neuter programme to address the overpopulation of stray and free-roaming dogs in underprivileged areas, where sickness, overbreeding and starvation is rife among animals. It started in Outjo as a non profit organisation over five years ago to reduce unwanted litters and prevent animal suffering in these areas and is now conducted on a regular basis in major towns across Namibia – from Rundu in the north to Luderitz in the south.
Sterilising dogs and cats not only prevents them from reproducing, but also helps the animal to remain healthy. The animal will roam less and will be less likely get hit by a car, and because the metabolism slows down, the sterilised dog and cat will gain weight in no time.
Special mention was also made of all those who made the sterilisation campaign possible, including the SPCA for providing animal crates to transport the dogs and cats in, as well as the volunteers, sponsors and donors.