Weekend Witness 1000 paws walk for SPCA

The posters are up, (and what lovely posters they are, designed and produced by the Witness), flyers are out, emails have started to go viral and our website, www.umngenispca.org.za, has all the information on this major event on our calendar.   Enquiries are pouring in and enthusiastic supporters are already obtaining sponsors for their walks.

Sunday 10th July will see hundreds of families with their aunties, grannies, kids, dogs, the lot, enjoying a wonderful day in the stunning grounds of Hilton College.   There will be stacks of entertainment for the children including Simba and Sharkie, who we hope to pit against one another with their Lions and Sharks supporters in the tug-o-war.   The adults will have plenty to keep them entertained too with line dancing, a pipe band, dancing with dogs and great dog agility demos followed by a chance to try the family pet around the course.   Two township dog training teams, one from Bruntville outside Mooi River and one from Mpophomeni, will give displays of their prowess.   A tea garden, beer garden and the Azalea Rotarians’ mobile grill will cater to the inner man, woman and child.   Applications are pouring in from stall holders of every ilk so there will be a full day of activity, entertainment and great family fun.

And did I mention the walks?   An easy 2 km walk takes you and your dog around the immaculate sports fields of this historical and prestigious boys’ school.   For those who want slightly more of a challenge the four km route goes through Hilton Estate’s plantations overlooking the Umgeni Valley and Albert Falls Dam.   The fitter handler and dog combinations can always do both and/or repeat either walk.   Just remember to choose your walk according to your dog’s capability not your own.

The cost is the same as last year, R25 per person over 6 yrs and R10 per dog.   You pay at the gate (open from 9 am) and then register to walk (starting at 10 am).   The Hills, Frontline and other sponsors will be giving out a limited number of gift packs to dogs that have registered and completed their walks.   Check out the Witness website www.witness.co.za to enter on line and remember to bring your printout with you.

Underneath all this fun and enjoyment lies the main reason for this event which is to raise much needed money for the three participating SPCAs, Mooi River, Pietermaritzburg and uMngeni (Howick) to continue and increase the work they do.   Animal lovers are urged to come and have a wonderful family day out and at the same time boost the funds of these three local SPCAs.

To raise even more money for animals – at no cost to you – download or collect from any of the three SPCAs a Sponsorship Form to enable your friends, family, colleagues, anyone, to sponsor your walk.   There are fantastic prizes from Woodridge Lodge, Old Kilgobbin and Brookfields for the three highest sponsorships raised.  Other prizes have been most generously donated by Mt Champagne, Karkloof Canopy Tours, Granny Mouse, Piggly Wiggly and Dragon Mountain Relishes plus a huge booze hamper and lots more.

With or without a dog this event is a “must do”.

Enquiries:  Pam, 033 330 7561, Heather, 033 330 5299

A Warm Doggy Breath Thank You

Our recent appeal for pet food, blankets and doggy jackets has elicited a wonderful response from far and wide.   Caring people have dropped off cans and packets of cat, kitten, dog and puppy food all of which is consumed with great relish by the animals in our care.    We are handling more and more animals which of course means we are always going to need a steady supply of food.  Advit Animal Nutrition, based in Howick, have committed to donating 10x 20kg bags of dog food per month.  This extremely generous donation will make a huge difference to our constant search for food.

From further afield SGX Logistics in New Germany having been donating cat and dog cans to us for years.   We somehow lost touch with them for a while but recently renewed contact and a drive to Pinetown was very well worthwhile as we came back with a full load of canned pet food.

Another extremely long journey undertaken by Dudu, Sandile and Michael was to the Kokstad Prison to collect a large number of donated blankets of unknown quality.  They set off early in two vehicles with a trailer and by the time they arrived home late that day, utterly exhausted, they had brought back a thousand perfectly good blankets to be distributed between all 17 SPCAs in KZN at the forthcoming Regional meeting.   We are all indebted to the powers that be in Correctional Services, Kokstad.

Blankets and dog coats have also been arriving from other quarters and we know of many ladies who are unable to assist us actively any more but who are sewing or knitting for our animals of all shapes and sizes.

We would also like to thank SAPLA Timbers in the Dargle who donate shavings for cat litter.   They even deliver it at no cost to us.   Other companies we approached wanted us to pay for the shavings and to collect it ourselves.   Thank you SAPLA Timbers, your kind support is truly valued.

What a wonderful caring world it is out there.   When we ask for help it comes from individuals, businesses, even government institutions.   Our most sincere thanks go out to one and all.

Heather Somerville, PRO, uMngeni SPCA

3 Busy Weekends Running

There has been so much going on in recent weeks I’m having trouble keeping up.   On the first weekend in July uMngeni hosted the quarterly Regional SPCA Meeting.   We are conveniently situated for all the various Societies in KZN, from the Lower South Coast to the north coast and inland from Kokstad to Newcastle.   As Harrismith is isolated from other Societies it is included in KZN.   We make up 17 Societies in all and it is very worthwhile to get together and exchange news and views and share problems.   If any Societies have a surfeit of something like food, bandages, medications, they bring it to share with the rest.  This time we were also able to distribute the blankets donated by the Kokstad Prison.   The ladies from our catering corps remained at the Centre without complaint in spite of the lure of Wimbledon, Rugby, Tour de France and other huge sporting fixtures.   Thank you, ladies, we appreciate your sacrifice.

The following weekend was our much anticipated Weekend Witness 1000 Paws Walk for SPCA at Hilton College.   Due very largely to the great advertising we received from the Witness, including the design and printing of our posters, attendance on the day was more than double that of the previous year.   1,150 people registered to walk with nearly 800 dogs and there were many more people who just came to watch and enjoy the fun, plus of course there were all the stall holders, helpers and entertainers.   The weather was perfect, the vibe was electric and the three SPCAs involved, Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River and uMngeni, made a great team under the leadership of Pam Hofman.   We received incredible support from local businesses in the form of sponsored prizes.  Hill’s and Frontline put together 300 goody bags for dogs. Thirteen people obtained sponsors for their walks and between them they added R6,800.00 to the entry takings.   We thank them most sincerely.  Imagine if every walker did this!   Yvonne Churley raised the most in sponsorship for the second time; R4,000.   Well done Yvonne.   When all the last claims and accounts have finally been settled we will share the profits equally between the three Societies.   We thank everyone who supported this event.

There was no time to bask in the warm glow of a job well done as the next weekend we held our AGM so it was all hands to the wheel again.   We are once again indebted to Thembelihle School for the use of their Hall.   At the start of the meeting a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Liz Fitzpatrick who leaves a large gap in our ranks.  The meeting, with a turnout of nearly forty people, proceeded smoothly.   The current Committee, consisting of John Lewis, Heather Somerville, Jackie Keers, Candice Moore, Anton and Pam Hofman was re-elected en bloc.   The office bearers will be appointed by the Committee at its first meeting.   The Reports presented by John Lewis, Chairman, Dudu Abraham, Operations Manager and Gunter Oellerman, Retail Manager, were interesting and very well received.   The meeting concluded with the Members’ Draw, wind chimes donated by Culamoya Chimes, won by Mrs Carlaw of Elizabeth Gardens and the wine hamper, drawn from those at the meeting, was won by Dr Tanya Hughes.   A friendly, social tea followed, arranged by members of the Events Team.   Thanks to Di Feltham yet again for the lovely flower arrangement.

Can we relax now?   Not on your life.  We are now fully embroiled in the preparations for our annual Hill’s Township Dog Show and Clinic to be held at Mafakathini on Sunday 7th August.   More about this flagship outreach event next week.

Heather Somerville, PRO, uMngeni SPCA

8th Hills SPCA Township Dog Show & Clinic

This cold snap really needs to be over by Sunday as we will be holding our Hill’s SPCA Township Dog Show & Clinic at Mafakathini.   We just hope for a clear sunny day as we expect anything up to 300 dogs and their handlers to attend this much needed outreach initiative.   The community is scattered and semi rural but there are huge numbers of animals of all kinds.  In order to keep numbers within reasonable bounds one of our main focuses is on the sterilisation of dogs and vaccination against rabies.

We work regularly in Mafakathini but this much vaunted Dog Show and Clinic focuses attention on the role of SPCA in all our townships and outlying areas.   Dogs and people leave at the end of the day with a bounce in their step carrying their handouts and prizes donated by Hill’s, Howick Cabins, Howick F & F, SAVE, Fairfield Dairies, The Sleep Shop, Simba and Frontline.  Volunteers go home with a feeling of accomplishment having participated in a truly worthwhile project helping animals and people in need.

If you would like to be a part of this incredible day please contact Adrienne on 033 347 2915.

Dogs in Cars


Our hearts ache for those dog owners whose animals have been lost when their car is stolen.     Frequently the owner has popped into the Supermarket leaving the dog or dogs in the car with a window partly open.   Imagine coming out of the shop, going to where you left your car and finding it’s not there.   You are momentarily confused, thinking you’ve forgotten where you parked, but as realisation dawns, your heart starts thudding with fear for your friend and companion gone with your car to who knows where.  Sad to say there is very seldom a happy ending to this scenario.

What makes it worse is that the sort of person who takes their dog in the car is one of those who loves and cares for their pet more than many others.    They are devastated, not by the loss of the car, but by not knowing the fate of their faithful, trusting companions.   I have heard it said, “My car is a very old model.  No-one would want to steal it.” Or even, “My dog wouldn’t let anyone steal my car”.   Old cars are frequently targeted as they don’t have sophisticated anti-theft devices and they consist of thousands of sought after spare parts and, believe me, experienced and ruthless car thieves will not be put off by a dog.
So my message is please do not take your dog out for a car ride to the shops.   If it is unavoidable then do speak to the car guard and ask him to particularly look after your car – and then pay him a bonus if car and dog are still there when you come out.  By leaving them safely and comfortably at home you will also be avoiding our other nightmare – dogs left in hot cars.   Dogs overheat very quickly and they die in hot cars.   So, ignore the pleading eyes and leave them at home.

This is the time of year for thunderstorms and, over the New Year, fireworks.   Since a large tree in our garden was struck by lightning a year ago our old German Shepherd bitch has developed a fear of storms.   We no longer dare to leave her outside if a storm is brewing in case she panics and does something stupid.   The term “blind panic” is very appropriate.   After bad storms or an evening of loud fireworks the SPCA gets calls from frantic owners whose animals have escaped through palisade fencing, over walls or even through glass windows and disappeared.   Many of these lost souls get hit by vehicles or are simply never found again.   Please make adequate arrangements to safeguard your animals against their worst nightmare.   Ask your vet for a suitable calming product.   If you have to go out and leave them, shutting them in a small room with windows and curtains closed and music playing helps.   If you come back to a scene of devastation please don’t get angry with the animal – it has clearly been terrified out of its mind.

Next week some Christmas cheer – no more doom and gloom.

Heather Somerville, PRO, uMngeni SPCA

SPCA Hosts Successful Bequests Luncheon

chrisDespite it being icy cold outside, on Sunday the 20th May, the atmosphere inside the Eagle Ridge Clubhouse was one of warm cheer. The uMngeni SPCA once again, hosted an informative and convivial Bequest luncheon to thank our Bequesters and to provide information for those interested in our Bequest Programme.

Our Bequest Programme was launched two years ago and is a long term fund raising programme.    A bequest, or legacy, enables us to up-date and/or replace equipment vital to the efficiency of our Clinic, allowing us to treat more animals. Thanks to a bequest, we were recently able purchase an anaesthetic machine which has made Dr Tanya Hughes’ work slightly easier.

A Bequest is a legacy of love that carries on giving long after you have gone.  This lunch is our way of saying “Thank You” for your legacy.
The lunch began with a glass of sherry upon arrival and everyone relaxed in the inviting lounge at the Eagle Ridge Clubhouse.

Val Hollis, our Bequests Liaison Officer, then welcomed the guests and Amanda Rykstra, from Doves Funeral Services, was invited to say a few words about Doves and their services. Doves, along with Harvard House, were extremely generous in sponsoring this event.

Val and her competent team worked tirelessly to provide a delicious, homemade meal comprising of a butternut and orange soup for starters, Sour cream, brown mushroom and chicken bake and/or a hearty beef stew, a lentil and mushroom moussaka for our vegetarian guests and freshly prepared, seasonal vegetables made for a tasty main course. A large chocolate cake with fresh cream and strawberries followed as a celebration of all present whose birthdays fell within this quarter of the year.  An excellent meal that all enjoyed with enthusiasm.

SPCA’s Operational Manager, Dudu Abrahams, spoke on the Outreach Programme that assists hundreds of animals, mainly dogs, every year, in health care, and emphasised the importance of sterilizing one’s animal to prevent indiscriminate breeding and the spread of diseases. She also assured everyone that no call was ignored or turned away, even if the call came from an area that was not in their jurisdiction. Dudu is passionate about the Outreach programme and is thrilled with its success. The result being that there are fewer unwanted puppies around and the dogs are in a generally healthier condition than ever before.

Each guest received a potted cactus to thank them for their attendance.
If anyone, young or old, would like to become a Bequester for the Umgeni SPCA, please kindly contact Val Hollis on 033 – 3304993 or email her on bequests@howickspca.org.za . It is a worthy cause as it ensures that we can continue to care for our animals for many, many more years to come.

Tess Fernandez

PRO/Fundraiser for uMngeni SPCA

Meet the team

Njabula Hlongwane

Njabula HlongwaneNjabula is a Receptionist and a Trainee Inspector. He helps out at the front desk with general office work and assists Jean and Linda when needed. He has been with the uMngeni SPCA for 18 months and is our friendly man who always has a smile on his face when you meet him.

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