Running a rescue sounds easy enough. I mean you find a stray, you take it in, give it some food and medical attention when required, give it a bath and you find it a new home. Easy enough and anyone can do it right? Wrong!

Let’s start from the beginning. Why run a rescue in the first place? The need for animals to be rescued has quadrupled multiple times in the last ten years. The problem is becoming greater and greater as each year passes as a result of our waning economy, immigration, downsizing homes, and most notably our crime rate forcing people into security complexes which for the most part won’t allow pets. We condemn the SPCA for killing so many companion animals but we forget to take a step back and contemplate the facts. Charnell recently spoke to the manager of an SPCA who admitted that their current adoption rate was as low as 10%!!!! But that the intake rate had increased significantly. What do you think is happening to the other 90% of their population?? It’s not about PTS only the old and sick and behaviourally challenged dogs now, they are putting them all down because the intake far exceeds the output. Why??? Because indiscriminate back yard breeding and irresponsible pet ownership is rife.

So along comes Joe Soap, ‘I can’t keep my husky anymore’...blah blah blah.... we have heard it all... ‘But I don’t want to send her to the SPCA because they will put my dog that I love sooooo much down!!!!! Granted there are people out there who genuinely find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, but there are as many who don’t... ‘I can’t handle this dog anymore’ ... Did you do your breed research? ... ‘No!’... Enough said! Huskies, and these days Pit bulls with a staggering recorded figure of 4000 PTS daily in the US, are two of the most euthanized breeds of dog in shelters around the world. Why? Because they are over-bred, misunderstood and abused and yet when given a fair chance in the right circumstances can be successfully rehabilitated and re-homed.

Case in point, I house sit for a family who adopted a rescued pit bull who was used in illegal dog fighting. Her ears were cut off with garden sheers in order to prolong the length of time she could continue fighting for. Apparently a ‘dangerous’ dog! Yet she is the most loving adorable 2 year old girl because she was given a second chance in the right environment and she lives happily with two other dogs. Another case in point; Silver was a chained husky, rescued and then re-homed by a non breed specific shelter. Sadly the re-home was not successful because he had access to and merrily killed 25 chickens. A typical genetic husky trait – one that can only be managed not bred or trained out of them. That bought him the label of ‘bad dog’ and a death sentence. We stepped in, brought him home to our centre, and two months later re-homed him to the most amazing family who have absolutely brought out the best in Silver. Please read his story on our Website’s Inspiring Stories Page.

Why run a rescue in the first place... I think we have sufficiently answered that question. So where to now? What is the reality of running a rescue centre? Yes it is easy to say “Save the dog” “Someone, do something!” Well you and I are that someone. How often do we see people tagging rescue organisations in posts on Facebook where help is needed to rescue a hurt or lost animal or an animal that needs a new home? My question is simple. After posting and tagging a rescue centre to help an animal in need, what further role does that person have in the welfare of that animal that they were quick to pass on to the rescue centre? Does that ‘poster’ or ‘sharer’ make any financial contribution to the care of that animal? Do they ever visit the destitute animal to offer any emotional or financial support for the poor creature, or the organisation they tagged? Do they actually contribute anything towards the care, or re-homing of that animal, other than tagging rescue centres to step in to help? While there are some who do, they are few. As much as we personally would be happy to take in all huskies and mixed breed huskies that need somewhere to go, sadly we are not Bill Gates, nor do we have the wealth of Jacob Zuma, the worlds 4th highest paid president whose government does NOT support animal welfare charities.

Husky Rescue KZN is registered as an NPO / PBO with SARS, and that is all the state is willing to allow us. Basically this means Corporates who wish to sponsor us by way of equipment, buildings or services, do so with no government recognition as a charitable act. Private sponsorship is our greatest and only hope for survival. Currently we have a handful of faithful monthly donors, but their contribution barely adds up to R1500 for Husky Rescue KZN. The monthly costs of taking care of an average of 45 dogs per month (and we are small in comparison to some rescue organisations) are huge. Dry food costs us in the region of R7000 per month. Then there are vet bills which currently stand at R14 000, and chronic medications which cost R1000 monthly. The cost of monthly parasite treatment (worms, fleas and ticks) is in excess of R3000. Then we are not taking into account the need for sundries like blankets, bowls, leads and collars, or the cost of cleaning the premises daily. Or the fuel to collect donations when we are fortunate to receive them, or to do to home checks and then to re-home the dogs – the cost of we take responsibility for.

Did you know that since Husky rescue started in 2009, we have rescued 160 dogs, rehomed 101 and euthanized 14 due to serious ill health or behavioural problems. The balance of 45 is the average number of dogs we have in foster care with us in Cato Ridge at any given time. Some stay with us a week and others for 4 years and longer. We have been instrumental in networking and finding homes for another 30 who never actually came in to the rescue centre.

Why do we have so many dogs? Where is the problem? We rescue faster than we re-home, it’s that simple. Why? A steady decrease in the number of families that can own pets and an increase in, and lack of control of backyard breeders is the main reason. What about the registered breeders who offer pure bred puppies without papers? Why no papers if they are registered breeders? Because the association they belong to stipulate they may only cover their female every second season. They don’t register the season that their female was not supposed to be covered because they could wind up losing face with the breeding organisation. But let’s not forget the Vets who charge exorbitant prices in our weak economy for sterilisations, prices that range between R1800 and R2600 in some of the suburbs of KZN. A cost far beyond what the average income earning family can meet. SPCA prices are more reasonable but they will only offer that service to underprivileged folk or families lacking income – otherwise they are accused of stealing business from the vets.

We are sitting with an over-population crisis of humongous proportions in SA. In some areas up to 90 % of unwanted animals that land up at the SPCA are put down. Years ago there was a by-law that stipulated that unless you had a breeders permit, you were not allowed to have an un-sterilized female dog. This was a municipality by-law that was policed and monitored by the municipality inspectors, assisted by the SPCA who took in and neutered unregistered domestic animals by order of the municipality, back in the day when the municipality actually worked for the community. Although the law is still in place, it is not monitored or enforced. Considering the high cost of having your female dog spayed, no wonder we have so many street dogs and unwanted domestic animals.

This in turn feeds another horrific scourge that is plaguing our country and becoming worse by the day – animal cruelty and Illegal dog fighting. It is so easy for dog fighting rings to get either bait dogs or fighters because there are so many unwanted pets, street dogs and cats and people offering puppies or unwanted pets “free to a good home”. Wives of those who fight dogs, are smartly dressed, well spoken ladies, who present themselves to these unsuspecting (and sometimes I believe uncaring owners) offering your ‘special baby’ a loving home and everyone thinks ‘Oh what a nice lady!’ You are fooling yourself if you believe that story – or you just don’t care. There is huge money in dog fighting and people involved will tell you everything you want to hear to get their hands on your dogs. They prowl your streets for strays and your homes for potential fighting or bait dogs and suddenly you come home or wake up in the morning to find your vulnerable pet missing, but in reality stolen for a cruel fate far worse than death.

One of our missions is to promote our Husky’s Angel Campaign where we have 750 ‘Angels’ regularly donating R30 (or more) per month. At the time of drafting this blog, we had 1700 “likes” on our Facebook page. If half our Facebook friends committed to donating a mere R30 a month, we would raise in excess of R25 500 a month. The goals and aspirations that we would achieve with that income are huge. Not only would it help us manage Husky Rescue KZN but it would also include outreach work in our rural area which is just as close to my heart as my huskies. Sterilising, treating and feeding sick rural dogs that would otherwise not be managed because of lack of funds and lack of transport etc. Incidentally, the NSPCA has stopped local SPCA’s from doing this much needed outreach work. Now imagine for a minute... 1000 Husky’s Angels supporting us and raising R30 000... we could even setup a mobile steri-clinic that would benefit rural dogs as well as make steris affordable for the average income earner. And in so doing we slowly, slowly catch the monkey and reduce the population of unwanted, homeless or stray animals thereby reducing the load on all rescue organisations here in KZN. We could set a precedent... and show the rest of Africa how to make a difference...

I know this is not the most up-lifting article to write, but sadly this is the reality. We cannot put our heads in the sand anymore and pretend none of this is happening...

Everyone has a responsibility and can help to make a difference...

Everyone contributing just a little bit will help provide enough...

Everyone educating their children and neighbours to stop breeding indiscriminately will make a difference...

Everyone helping a charity in their area to walk, socialise, bath and groom a dog or cat will make a difference...

Everyone reporting and following up on animal cruelty or neglect will make a difference...