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July 15, 2011

In: Brakking News

African Tails Goes Brak to Basics: Because sterilisation is the only solution…

African Tails’ primary goal has always been sterilisation… but over the last year or so, our attention has been diverted by the many individual dogs that need rescuing and rehoming. But it’s time to refocus that attention on sterilisation, in an effort to truly curb the overpopulation, rather than just saving a handful of individuals.

Why? Because…

  • One unsterilised female dog and her offspring can produce 67 000 dogs in six years. It’s anyone’s guess how many unsterilised females are currently roaming the townships. Sometimes, when we rescue a mother and her six-week-old puppies, we find she’s already pregnant with yet another litter! A female puppy goes on heat for the first time at just six months of age, and from then on, she’ll go on heat twice a year. The maths of this is just frightening.
  • Every dog we rescue costs time, effort and money. If we spend R20 000, for example, turning 20 dogs’ lives around, that money could rather be used to sterilise 200 dogs in the townships. That’s thousands and thousands of puppies that would not have to suffer a life of abuse and neglect, compared to just 20 dogs who find new happy homes.
  • There aren’t enough homes for the township pup-ulation. And it’s growing every day. Rescuing a small number of dogs may sound fantastic, but it’s like putting a plaster over a gunshot wound; the source of the problem has not been addressed, and the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Despite all our plea’s to the public to “adopt a rescue”, we are still saddened daily by the amount of people who still support breeders by buying pedigree dogs for thousands of Rands and even cross breeds from backyard breeders – or worse yet – people who still insist on letting their dogs have “just one litter” “for the sake of the children to see the wonder of birth or for the dog to be whole and complete”.
  • There aren’t enough foster homes out there – we spend many a day barking up one tree after another in a desperate (and often futile) search for loving foster homes for our rescues. We don’t have a shelter facility and rely on caring people to open up their homes to our rescues before we can find them their happily ever after’s. Thank you to all those loving foster mom’s and dad’s that have helped us turn 380 dog lives around in the past 3.5 years.
  • There are already so many shelters! While we spend all our time and money finding homes for our rescued dogs, thousands of other dogs are in shelters around South Africa, waiting desperately for someone to take them home.

In short, we have to be cruel to be kind. Prevention is better than cure, and the only way we can ever hope to make a tangible difference to the plight of these dogs is to stop the cycle at its source. At the moment we are simply chasing our tails, rather than moving forward and making a real difference.

Currently, African Tails has over 60 dogs in foster care. With this in mind, we have decided to close our doors to further rescues and find homes for the dogs we already have. Ultimately, we aim to bring our numbers back down to a maximum of 15 rescued dogs at a time. This is more manageable for the African Tails staff and fosters, and will allow us to focus on sterilisation. If we can cut back on the time, energy and resources it costs us to rehome a fraction of the dogs that are out there, we could focus more intensively on monthly and weekly sterilisation campaigns.

Does this mean we won’t be rescuing any more dogs?
We will still be rescuing, but in much smaller numbers (maximum 15 dogs at a time). Our focus will be on sterilisation, and our secondary function will be rescuing and rehoming (which will only apply to township dogs).

What should you do if you find a stray dog?
There are many existing shelters that take in strays – such as the SPCA and the Animal Anti-Cruelty League – and we urge you to contact one of them if you need help. They are specialised organisations whose primary focus is rescuing and rehoming, and they will therefore be the best people to call.

If you can’t keep your dog…
First of all, please think twice before abandoning him or her. There are always other solutions – like finding a pet-friendly apartment, taking your dog with you when you emigrate, or phoning an Animal Behaviourist if you’re having trouble with your dog. Please feel free to contact us if you need some advice on these options. If you really must give up your dog and you adopted him or her from African Tails, please contact us ASAP. We will take full responsibility for any of our graduates and will help you find a new home for your hound. If your dog is not from African Tails, however, please contact one of the abovementioned organisations.

What’s our next step?
Find homes for our current 60+ dogs … and for this we need your help! If you or anyone you know is looking for wonderful new best friend, please have a look at the homeseeking hounds on our website ( or on our Facebook page. Once our numbers are down to a maximum of 15 dogs, we can begin to refocus on our primary goal: sterilisation!

How are we going to sterilise?
We plan to start running vaccination clinics and monthly mass-sterilisations (i.e. PRIMARY CARE) in the townships, as well as mini-sterilisations on a weekly basis. This is thanks to Peninsula Beverages (aka Coca Cola) who generously donated a container for us to establish as a clinic and thanks wonderful vets like Dr Yvonne Robson and Dr Roos (of Stellenbosch Animal Welfare) who have made their passion for sterilising, their facilities and their expertise available for us to make a quantifiable difference in the near future. We are also going to focus our efforts on EDUCATION – in both rural and urban schools as well as educating and assisting existing dog owners in the township to provide the best for their loyal friends.

We also can’t achieve these goals without your help so appeal for you to please complete the attached debit order form and know that for every R100 you contribute to us per month, one township dog’s sterilisation will be subsidized by you. That’s a pleasing thought for the conscience when drifting off to sleep on cold, stormy nights.

At the end of each day, we will be able to wipe the sweat off our brows and know that we have truly made an impact. And that’s what we call a real happy ending.