Hoedspruit Animal Outreach is committed to ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of domestic animals in the rural communities surrounding Hoedspruit.
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HALO’s team of volunteers visit four communities each month and offers free veterinary care and education on animal welfare. As there are no veterinary facilities in any of the communities, people and dogs rely solely on HALO.
In 2016 HALO set up the first outreach program with the community leader and a community representative of Lepelle. Since then our outreach program has grown to four communities surrounding Hoedspruit; Mulalani, The Oaks, The Willows and LeBoeng (California).. Once a month, the HALO volunteers visit each community and pet owners can bring their dogs, cats and other domestic animals for free medical care. The animals are examined and medicated when needed (worms, mange, mango worms and fly strike are common problems in the rural community dogs) or vaccinated (5-in-1 and Rabies). All records of the dogs are kept and pet owners bring the vaccination card to each outreach. After each visit, dogs are dipped to get rid of ticks and fleas. Sick dogs in rural communities are a danger to people and wildlife so it is also important for those reasons to keep rural dog populations healthy..
Dogs are checked for body score index (1-emaciated, 5-obese) and advice to the owner is given on animal welfare. After finishing the dip the owners receive a small bag of dog food to improve the physical condition of the dogs as most rural community dogs only get fed leftovers from the owners.
At outreach, pet owners are encouraged to sign up their pets for sterilisation. Community pets roam freely and the population can quickly spiral out of control. Female dogs in communities are suffering when they get litter after litter as it literally drains out all reserves of the dog leaving them skinny and sick. Also, mortality among puppies in rural communities is high, puppies are often unwanted by pet owners and end up being neglected, starved or dying of preventable diseases. Breeding also leaves dogs risk of contracting transmissible venereal tumours (TVT), a sexually transmitted cancer in dogs. We usually see a big improvement in the health condition after a dog is sterilised. Sterilisation costs R900.
Education is a key goal for HALO. At outreach, volunteers discuss animal welfare topics with the pet owners, such as adequate and proper nutrition, benefits of sterilisation, prevention and treatment of common disorders such as mange, transmissible venereal tumours (TVT) and fly strike. HALO also assists owners that require more assistance in treating their dog’s medical conditions or food supplementation.
Education on how owners can responsibly take care of their pets with knowledge about basic treatments and nutrition will in the long term be the most effective tool to improve the mental and physical health of community domestic animals. HALO works with owners of all ages. As youth are usually the main carer of domestic animals in rural communities, it is particularly important to teach them how to bond with and respect animals.
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