A large proportion of the companion dogs across South Africa live in townships, where people keep dogs to use as watchdogs. The majority of people living in these townships don’t have the financial resources or educational guidance to provide proper care for their animals; meaning many roam the streets in varying states of health and, with nearly all of them unsterilised, stuck in an endless breeding cycle.
Limited access to medical care, combined with starvation and dehydration, easily leads to rapid spreading of diseases such as distemper which is ordinarily easily preventable via vaccination.
The team at Sidewalk Specials is headed up by incredible founder, Rachael Sylvester, who has created something quite unique: unlike similar initiatives, Sidewalk Specials has no shelter, relying solely on foster homes to care for the dogs they rescue from euthanasia lists, abusive situations and township outreach programmes.
Sterilisation, local community education, along with general medical welfare and being able to offer free veterinary care to dogs in need, are also all firmly at the forefront of Sidewalks Specials’ mission.
The pandemic sadly halted the mass sterilisation drives facilitated by Sidewalk Specials and which targeted communities where financial means are limited. Not only did the team provide free sterilisation, but also a complete veterinary check-up, blood smear, flea and tick treatment, deworming, vaccination, mange treatment and a bag of food. The team even arranged transport pick-ups and drop-offs to neighbouring townships, reaching as many animals in need as possible.
During their most successful sterilisation drive during 2020, 670 animals were treated over four days, all while maintaining social distancing!
We are proud to have supported the sterilisation of almost 400 dogs during this period.
We began supporting Sidewalk Specials during mid 2020, at a time when the pandemic was taking hold, by providing welfare support funds across 3 months which facilitated the purchase of nutritious food for distributing to communities and their dogs in need. Free food is often the encouragement required for township residents to take their dogs for medical treatment and sterilisation; a small gesture, but enough to prevent thousands of unwanted puppies being born into a life of hardship.
We have continued to assist with outreach support work; financially supporting a distemper vaccination drive during 2021, and more recently helping to fund smaller-scale sterilisation work and general medical care within the local community.
Our current support focus is on education; we have funded the production of 4 educational videos across several regional languages which have been presented at both teen outreach schemes and primary schools. They have also be viewed thousands of times internationally as a result of being available for free download.
An accompanying set of interactive worksheets for each video has been produced, with the aim of reinforcing the learning. These are also available for free download from the Sidewalk Specials website, making them easily accessible for all educators.
If a regular donation towards a specific project is set up and we subsequently cease to provide support in the future, any recurring donations will be allocated to the areas of our other work requiring the most support.