GEORGE NEWS & VIDEO - Sunshine, fresh air, grass under their feet, clean water nearby, and four-legged friends to play with all day long. This will soon be possible on a daily basis for all the dogs kept at the Garden Route SPCA George branch, thanks to the combined efforts of a number of benefactors - one from as far as New York.
Creating more outdoor running pens where the dogs can run free all day, every day, has been a long-time dream of SPCA volunteer Heather Church.
This dream is now being realised. It was kick-started by a team from the local Dotsure office who held a work party at the SPCA premises in October last year, during which they dug holes for fencing poles in the area where the pens are envisioned. Dotsure's initiative spurred on a regular volunteer dog walker, Tara Marshall, to make a donation of R10 000 for buying the poles and concrete for the bases.
Some months went by, and Church was becoming concerned that the holes were filling up with debris, so putting up the fencing was becoming critical. She was blown away when New Yorker Elaine Frater recently came forward with a generous R165 000 donation for the project to be completed.
Frater was inspired by Church's vision after hearing about it from a friend, Wendy Thompson, another volunteer dog walker. Frater and her husband, Robert, annually spend half of the year in their home in Glentana and have been almost life-long friends with Wendy and her husband, Blyth Thompson.
Frater said she made the donation in memory of her daughter Pippa, who passed away 15 years ago and was a great animal lover. A photo of Pippa and her rescue dog, Macsimile, will be put up in the front office of the SPCA to keep her memory alive. "I think it is going to be great project and I am privileged to be a part of it," said Frater.
Desmond Wood, a senior manager at Dotsure, said they are proud to be associated with Church and the SPCA crew. The Dotsure team has also been doing some maintenance work at the premises for some time now. "We are excited to see the progress of this worthy project."
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An elated Church said once all the pens are up, the dogs will only go into their kennels at night. Dogs that are put together in one running pen will be selected carefully.
"This is not only a way of freeing them from the kennels, they will also be socialised, making them more attractive to potential adoptive owners. This has been something that I have wanted to do for a very long time."
Marshall said although the dogs are already very well cared for, the concrete floors and isolation in the kennels do have an effect on them. "When we do our voluntary walks every week, the grass under their feet creates so much enjoyment. Some would lie down and stretch their bodies out the moment they set foot on the grass. The pleasure of it is so obvious. This project makes my heart happy."
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