"Lone voice in the wilderness"
This is a blog post from out Global Giving site. It's a great update of what happened in December 2018 and an insight into the amazing work we do.
What a busy time we have had since we last communicated by way of a report with you all. We, the volunteers at Mutare SPCA, have made it our purpose to ‘grow’ our staff, giving them more command in their very important role in the community. We have sent two of our Inspectors to Imire Game Park near Harare where they attended a course on Strategy for Captive Elephant Management. We do not condone captive wildlife in any shape or form, BUT captive wildlife is being forced upon us and we felt they should attend so we could understand current thinking in Zimbabwe, and voice our concerns where necessary. More and more we are seeing our beautiful wildlife, for example lions, in small cages for the amusement, even taunting, of the general public, who do not understand the stress those animals and being placed under. Also, we feel extremely strongly that the decimation of herds of elephants, to capture their very young to send to zoos in China is off the charts cruel, and yet it continues to happen as government corruption reaches proportions we could never have imagined. SPCA Mutare sometimes feels like that ‘lone voice in the wilderness’ in these cases.
Then more recently, the same Inspectors attended a Dogs Trust Worldwide Behaviour Course in Harare. They have come back full of wonderful new ideas for how we can better ourselves and the lives of our shelter animals. The first thing they want is for us to design and implement is an enrichment area for play. Global Giving funds could help us with this playground. Keep up the great ideas, Inspectors William Nyawengu and Simba Karumbidza! We are all behind you.
Here I include Inspector William’s report for Global Giving. It’s long, I know, but the last few lines are worth their weight in gold to the volunteers of Mutare SPCA:
We attended the Dogs Trust Workshop on 22nd to 25 November which empowered us with vast knowledge of dealing with dog behaviour, shaping and assessment confidence building on nervous dogs and observational learning, touch acceptance, how to approach new dogs, and aggressive dogs. We learned that best practice at the shelters is about standards. We did a general overview of training, learning theory of training dogs, based on positive reward only, and the effects of negative training and how that results in other issues, which will be difficult to correct. Training helps with matching the dog with new owners and homes, and good organizational reputations. Safety at home promotes welfare since dogs will stay in their homes, since there will grow trust, respect, empathy and communication. It also makes for easy handling at Vet Doctors. For us at Mutare SPCA, shelter enrichment will improve animal behaviour, eg life rooms, elevated areas, sensory gardens, sand boxes, raised areas, interactive toys. We must consider the design from dogs perspective, defensive handling is important to provide safety, and reduce costs and work load. We learned to study dog body language, signs of fear in eyes and tails and high stress triggers. We were taught about types of bites eg snapping, ragging, grabbing and crushing. We need improvements to our shelter but it’s a process which includes long and short term planning, Quality care reduces stress to our dogs. We learned of record keeping, and hygiene, and education of the public is as important.
So we have lots of plans to implement here. In short I salute all our Instructors who travelled all the way from UK to come and anoint us with such vast and rich knowledge. I will never forget the organizers, and everyone who contributed in making the workshop a success. I give a big thank you as it was a great eye-opener. I am prepared to share the knowledge with my fellow workmates and I hope to raise the standard of our dog welfare at Mutare SPCA and the community at large. I feel greatly humbled by your effort at empowering us.
Inspector William Nyawengu.
THANK YOU, INSPECTOR WILLIAM.
Back to me: Our shelter has been flooded with animals in need.
We are thankful that people in our community do inform us all the animals in distress. Now to show these animals that they matter, give them the love and sanctuary they should have known, and above all to find good homes. One cat, no more than a kitten herself was found in a bad state in a nearby factory. We gave her that sanctuary and helped her through her delivery of 5 exquisite kittens, each one shaded with pale heads to dark tails in the loveliest silvery greys. We have never seen this coloration before. Talk about 50 Shades of Grey! Another miniscule tabby kitten was brought in, and (the generosity of stray animals!) a feeding mother cat took her over as if she was her own immediately. We have 5 litters to care for at the moment, including 4 delightful X-Siamese female kittens, little SPCA celebs, so we have called them “The Katashians.”
We have been lucky to find some good homes of late for dogs. Mutare is surrounded by hills and mountains. The Bonda area, known for its superb rural hospital, is particularly interesting. A couple came past to choose two character filled dogs from us, and they kindly adopted a wee kitten at the same time. Celebration day for Mutare SPCA. Two other dogs have been chosen to go and live in Chimanimani Mountains, one of Zimbabwe’s most beautiful locations, second only to Victoria Falls for popularity. Only the best for Mutare SPCA dogs, you know! Four dogs have been homed locally this month.
Our kennels and cattery are filled to bursting, so our next plan is an extension to the cattery that will give each unit access to an outdoor space. If you could, we would be very, very grateful for a helping hand to get this project underway. We have purchased some of the metal ware for the frames, but now need the mesh for the walls and rooves, and labour costs. We will be posting our progress on our facebook page (SPCA-Mutare), but have now discovered our electrical supply box is dangerous. Doesn’t life feel at times like its one step forward and two steps back?
A few months ago we took a leap of faith and allowed a playschool to adopt a puppy. So far it has been a good relationship, and we have taken the opportunity to let little ones have that wondrous experience of ‘owning’ a dog and having to care for it. Inspector William goes regularly to coach the children and the dog at good relationships. Thank you Bongai Shamwari.
This past 6 weeks we have been involved in a case investigating the condition of some horses at a rural school. It may have seemed like a good idea to give children access to horses, but they are expensive to manage and you have to know how to handle horses in your care. We sent 3 Inspectors out, including Ange Wright, who is great with them. The situation was not good. Nutrition was poor and husbandry non-existent. One mare is pregnant, and three youngsters not broken in. This case is going to be an extremely difficult one for us, but it will be a sad day if all rural schools start collecting horses. We try not to be heavy handed in most cases, so Ange met with some school staff to discuss the way forward. Education is so important. On our follow up visit, Ange feels this case will end in intervention. We simply cannot afford to maintain 8 horses, so we have to appeal for help from horse familiar people, for those horses that can be saved. Not all will be in that category sadly. This work can be so tragically sad at times. We will need to transport and medicate them, employ grooms, and find money for quality fodder. Endless worries for us….
On to other subjects, - not all cheerful sadly. Our government, in which most individuals have unlimited access to foreign currency, recently allowed our currency to float against the US Dollar. Here we use an unbacked, unreliable currency called Bond…..look, stay with me here…..it’s weird! know. The immediate effect was that our salaries were divided by the going rate of the day. Shops and businesses reeled at the thought of re-stocking so they put their prices up by said rate. It reached 10:1, that’s right….divide your salary by 10, pay for goods x10!!! Depression set in all round. The rate has settled at 3:1, but tell that to the man in the street, your salary is one third of what it was, and prices have tripled. This is why this Global Giving Project is worth is weight in gold for us. The value of money our support community gives is stable, and very critical to our survival long term. Please consider having an envelope under your Christmas tree for us. We have almost too much on our plates, but there is no way on this Earth we will stop trying to make a difference in our community.
So thank you all, and have a Happy Festive Season, or treasured family time.
I know I say it every time, but in life, if you can make a difference, it matters. And this forum DOES JUST THAT. It makes a difference. For that, we thank you. From the bottom of our hearts….we thank you.
From the Mutare SPCA Team of volunteers.