The Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWS) is preparing for a spike in the number of unwanted, stray, homeless and abused animals over the festive season.
But the rescue “tails” with happy endings are what keeps its staff on the Cape Flats bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while they handle more than 4 000 animals per month.
One of these is Howler the pit bull, who has finally found his forever home after spending roughly two years at the shelter.
AWS spokesperson Allan Perrins said Howler’s previous owner had made a gut-wrenching decision to leave one of his two pit bulls at the shelter after finding a rental property that could only accommodate one of them.
Many people enquired about adopting Howler over the two years but they fell short of the adoption criteria.
That was until Donovan Nel from Eerste River walked in and just knew Howler was for him.
“I was sitting on the couch and got a glimpse of a dog in the corner of the kennel. I said to my wife and family: Look! That’s my dog. I immediately knew,” he told News24.
Nel looked at other dogs with the inspector but his mind was already made up.
Howler has been enjoying the first month with his new family and Nel said it’s been a learning curve but everyone loves the pooch.
“This dog likes to lie in the bedroom and living room. He is very playful and protective. When I come outside in the morning, I must play with him now,” he said.
“It will be a little bit of time before he adapts to our house rules and me as his father. He’s a handful but a living joy.”
It was also a sad start for Spot, a Maltese cross puppy, who was found tied to the AWS’ main gate at the start of December.
Perrins said that other than a tangled and knotted coat, she was found to be in good health.
Just two days after arriving on their doorstep, she was spotted by two women from Rondebosch who visited the AWS for the first time.
One of them, Bridget Scoble, was looking to adopt her second rescue dog and was specifically looking for a small lap dog.
As she entered the reception, she saw Spot curled up on a staff member’s lap being groomed.
It was love at first sight and she adopted the fluff ball “on the spot”, said Perrins.
Scoble told News24 that it took just three seconds to make a decision.
Their household of two working people, a non-working person and a rescue labrador had been looking for a little addition to keep them company, she said.
“She had a little spot on her right eye and a little spot on her left ear. It was very endearing and made her unique.”
Spot is expected to go to her new home soon.
The AWS, which relies on funding and goodwill from the public, was almost full with sick and injured animals, strays and adoption hopefuls.
Perrins said they had a selection of animals for those serious about adopting – but warned that pets were for life, not for Christmas.
One of those hoping for a new family was Cody the Swiss Shepherd, whose owner’s son developed an allergy to dog hair.
Perrins said the family had no choice but to make the hard decision to part with him.
He has been at the AWS since the start of December.
“He is a beautiful dog and has a very kind nature so we are hopeful that he will find a loving new home well before Christmas.”