PAWS @ AISJ archives

High School students embark on a new initiative to help animals!

Robert Joosten and Raoul Herbert responded to an article entitled “Animals Need Walkies” published in the local Midrand Reporter newspaper, written by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in earlier last month (January). This SPCA facility has catteries and dog kennels only, where lost, abandoned and stray animals are offered for claiming and for adoption – without volunteers, they might not be able to keep their doors open.

Our initial visit to the facility on February 23rd, 2010 was a success. The two boys met with one of the managers Elsje Naiker to start establishing goals and expectations regarding how best to lend a helping hand at the animal shelter. Our students will strive to create awareness, socialize with the kittens and puppies, exercise the dogs as well as provide pet food (which is in constant shortage). The dedicated team at the Midrand SPCA is willing and eager to educate and train our high school students on how to best achieve these objectives.

Even our transport driver, Justice, could not resist cuddling the cats that took an instant shine to him!

Who let the dogs out?

We are very grateful to the Midrand SPCA’s manager, Elsje Naiker, and her dedicated team who have been willing and eager to educate and train our high school students on how to best achieve a positive impact as volunteers. However, during one of our first visits, shortly after a briefing on how to approach excited dogs in the kennels, we mistakenly let a few dogs out before managing to attach a leash… Oops! Much to the dogs’ disappointment, their new found liberty was short lived thanks to the experienced staff who helped us chase and retrieve them. From that moment onwards, the learning curb has been steep!

Some of us doubted our own abilities in the beginning, but we quickly learned to lead medium to large size breeds by maintaining a calm, yet firm approach, as advised. Before long, hesitations were transforming into self-belief.  With every visit we are improving our application of specific techniques to enter the kennels for feeding, and attaching leashes for walking. Exercising the dogs takes patience as some animals are stressed while others are understandably timid. We continue to persevere. Even students, who at first felt a little uneasy, are stepping out of their comfort zone to help. Raoul, who prefers to socialize with the kittens, comments:

 “Last week, we had a great time walking and feeding the dogs. It was something very new to me. I dislike dogs, yet when I was urged to walk them, I found that it was not actually that bad. I especially like running around the buildings with my dog. Thus it was a great experience to be doing something new.”

Now that the cold weather is starting to settle in, our recent challenging task has been to aptly arrange blankets in every kennel for the animals to keep warm.

Our collaborative efforts continue to develop with every visit. We are now familiar with feeding time procedures and animal-handling routines. We know how to more effectively assist the staff with general animal care tasks. No doubt, the Midrand SPCA’s team is delighted that we have become more efficient assistants now that we are the wiser, and spending less time chasing canines to retrieve them!

Protecting the welfare of vulnerable animals only takes a few small acts of courage and kindness. Support us in making a difference in our community’s efforts to help animal victims.

. “…animals deserve to be treated nicely (…) I saw a lovely dog being adopted. It motivated me further to proceed being committed to this activity and learn more.”

– Steven, grade 11 student

 “Our goals in the PAWS  [service activity] are not just to help the animals experience the human capacity for good, but also for us to understand that it is ethically and morally sound to treat  animals with the same respect and love we treat other humans with.”

– Mario, grade 12 student

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