Petru J Viljoen
So many stray animals. So few, willing, pet owners. Scrolling through the messages in GAIN’s conversation group, discussing a dog who’s no longer wanted, finding the pet a new home. A quick solution: this time.
Graskop used to be awash with cats and dogs, all of the time. Some with mange, some with protruding sores, emaciated – and the bitches with teats hanging to the ground, a trail of puppies in tow.
Carla Gibson, Chair of the NPO called Graskop Animals In Need (GAIN), together with Board Members Elsabe Louw (Vice Chair), Tammy Brown (Secretary), Lourika Coetzee (Treasurer), Manie Connaway, Grant and Belinda Bosman and Lance Gibson, swooped through the town, rescued animals, putting them up in enclosures built on Carla’s property, treating their various ailments and starting a welfare campaign to sterilize and treat these animals, so as to put an end to the uncontrollable breeding. It is working. Graskop is now nearly devoid of strays.
In the last two and a half years, seventy-seven animals have been sterilized, seventeen of which were done this year. Gain works with vets from larger centres, who come to Graskop every second month to perform the sterilizations and to treat animals in need. The NG Church provides the hall free of charge to the vets, for the sterilizations.
Gain works with the disadvantaged community in and around Graskop by having a feeding program and educating the youngsters about their pets. Most of their funds are raised through Bingo evenings, vetkoek and doughnut sales and a white elephant table at the local street market. Most of the funds raised are paid over to the vet welfare account for the sterilizations done on these animals. The vets do charge a fee but donate their time free of charge.
Gain currently shelters fourteen dogs and twenty-six cats and kittens. These animals are housed in enclosures, which were built with the help of the community, and they get “outside time” on a rotation basis. Dogs are walked regularly to socialize them with other animals and people. Carla has a helper, Gerson, who comes in every day, Monday to Friday, to help with the feeding and cleaning and to check that the animals are all in good health. This worker is paid out of her own pocket. His relationship with the animals is unique. There are true affection and care.
Carla is an agent for a dog food manufacturer and gets paid her commission on sales with dog food, which is then used for Gain.
Two success stories boosted the love and energy that goes into this work. Cleo, a Collie cross, had a plastic bag tied around her neck which eventually bit into the flesh. She was rescued by Gain. A dog lover from Cape Town adopted her after falling in love with her story on Gain’s Facebook page. They paid all the expenses to have Cleo flown in.
A female Rottweiler, Shadow, was driven all the way to Witbank from Graskop to meet her new family, who drove from Port Edward to fetch her. Carla says this kind of interest in her rescued animals is what keeps her going.
Carla has not been away on vacation for the last two and a half years that Gain has been in operation. She’s been living in Graskop for 26 years and has always spent time rescuing animals. Carla and Elsabe fostered for Pro-life in Nelspruit but eventually decided to start Gain to help animals in their community. Gain works closely with the White River SPCA who are always willing to help with sick animals and strays when Gain is full to capacity.
Gain can be found on Facebook.
Graskop Animals in Need
Cheque account number: 626 7211 7712