US Soldiers, SA counterparts engage in community service to honor Nelson Mandela Day

Brig. Gen. William J. Prendergast, U.S. Army Africa Deputy commanding general, participates in the annual Mandela Day celebration
during Shared Accord 17 in the local community of Postmasburg, July 18, 2017. U.S. Army Africa Command (USARAF) Soldiers,
troops from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and service members from the South African National Defense Force,
who are taking part in Exercise Shared Accord 2017, partnered with the Diere Forum Postmasburg animal shelter to volunteer
67 minutes of their time in service to the community to commemorate Mandela Day.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Tadow McDonald)

OSTMASBURG, South Africa — U.S. Army Africa Command Soldiers, troops from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and service members from the South African National Defense Force celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day 2017 by partnering with a local South African animal shelter to provide free exams and medical treatment for pets in the town of Postmasburg, South Africa, on July 18.

The troops, who are training together during Exercise Shared Accord 2017, took time to observe Nelson Mandela International Day — a tradition first recognized in 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of Mandela’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

“As part of Nelson Mandela Day we came out to kind of engage the community and give back to the community,” said Brig. Gen. William J. Prendergast, USARAF Deputy Commanding General.

“It’s just great to see other cultures and make that bond between two nations,” Prendergast said, adding that the U.S. Army is committed to strengthening its relationship with regional and national African partners.

U.S. and South African troops partnered with local animal shelter, Diere Forum Postmasburg, and set up a free, outdoor dog clinic for residents living in the shanytown of Postmasburg. Residents lined up for their dogs to receive free vaccinations, flea treatments, and de-worming medicine.

Service members from both countries donned medical gloves and assisted the shelter workers with the pets and interacted with residents.

“I think it was great because we don’t get to do that stuff often,” said Army Spc. Gladys Y. Gilbert Brea, a cook with the 101st, originally from Gautier, Mississippi.

“It was heartwarming — I love animals,” Brea added.

Mandela Day is observed each year on July 18 as it is the late statesman’s birthday, and it calls on all citizens to volunteer 67 minutes of their time in commemoration of Mandela’s 67 years in service of promoting social justice. Mandela’s legacy includes working as a human rights lawyer, an international peacemaker, and the first democratically-elected president of South Africa.

This year, according to the United Nations website, the theme for Mandela Day was “Action against Poverty,” acknowledging Mandela’s devotion to fighting poverty.

“We need to make a difference in what we’re doing in our communities,” said South African Defense Force Col. William Bucibe, a senior staff officer.

“We are here as an organization to give back to the community. We must do good wherever we are so we can make this a better world,” Bucibe explained.

Prendergast echoed the sentiment that it is important for service members to be involved in their communities and interact with the civilians that they defend.

“It’s community relations, and Shared Accord ’17 is really a great opportunity for us to continue to build partnerships with our African partners,” he said.


Wirtten by: SFC Alexandra Hays

Tears Sleepathon 2017

Date: 7 & 14 October 2017

Gemma, the cat with nine lives who found a way home after Knysna fires

Gemma the cat, whose paws were burnt during the Knysna fires, has been returned to her humans.
Image: Knysna Animal Welfare Society via Facebook

Gemma‚ the tenacious cat who found her way home six days after the fires‚ was one of the hundreds of pets caught up in the disaster that left parts of the Garden Route devastated a month ago.

Her story‚ unlike many of the pet casualties caught up in the inferno‚ had a happy ending.

“The feeling was indescribable when I saw Gemma again‚” said Lelanie Du Toit. “When the fire came Gemma was missing. Because she loved the outdoors I knew she was somewhere in the backyard but I couldn’t find her so I had to leave her behind with tears in my eyes. We have had her for 16 years and she is part of the family”.

Du Toit said that she and her family had made peace with never seeing Gemma again until one day they heard cat noises at the back door. Gemma had crawled back home with severely burnt paws.

Animal welfare centres were filled to capacity as families lost or were forced to evacuate their homes‚ not knowing what to do with their beloved pets.

Residents coming to terms with the long term consequences of losing their homes – having to stay in rented or temporary accommodation – are now being forced to put their pets up for adoption.

The Knysna Animal Welfare Society‚ inundated with pets‚ had to ask for assistance from the SPCA in George which in turn called other branches to help as the task to save the animals became near impossible.

Anneline Kitley‚ manager at the Knysna Animal Welfare Society‚ said the initial outpouring of help after the fires was tremendous but now many who lost their homes did not know what to do with their animals.

“We had a lot of animals that we had to look after because the owners were looking for other accommodation. Everybody just opened their hearts for people to come and stay with them and obviously not thinking long term and that it might be a problem later on. They need to look for other homes for their animals because they have lost everything‚” said Kitley.

She said that their small facility could normally only house 60 animals at a time but were caring for twice as many. The centre runs as a hospital and place of recovery for the fire victims.

“We have two cats whose owners’ homes burnt down and they just realised that wherever they try to get a place to live‚ whether it is at a B&B or at a guest house they can’t bring their animals so they asked us to look for a home for the cats‚” said Kitley.

“Some of the animals here are still recovering from their burn wounds‚ the owners come in regularly to visit. These animals are still with bandages around their feet so we keep them here and nurse them back to health‚” said Kitley.

Noreen Sass‚ a nurse with four decades of experience who specialises in wound care‚ helped to treat the burnt animals.

“I went around to the vets to show them how to treat burn wounds. I would use the dressing I would use on human patients on the animals” she said.

Many of the burns were only treated a week after the fire because animals had fled and only returned later.

“Some of them really suffered serious burn wounds and others’ wounds were so bad that they had little to no chance of survival. We decided to euthanise these animals. The feet of the animals had the most burn wounds because they walked on coals‚” said Sass.

Salome Bruyns‚ senior Inspector for the SPCA Garden Route‚ said: “We travelled to and fro between George and Knysna every day for two weeks to see if there were any animals roaming the streets. The fire was so intense that some animals escaped from their homes and only after the fire subsided‚ which was a week later‚ did they come out of hiding‚ seriously injured.

“We walked in the plantations and on farms where we would find pigs and cows that had died. A lot of people who locked their animals in their homes during the day said that when they returned home they found their homes burnt to the ground with the animals inside.”

Bruyns said that a lot of animals still remain missing four weeks after the fire. Owners do not know if their pets are dead or alive.

Written by: Petru Saal

Boomerang pet survey highlights role of pets within families

Boomerang Africa, channel and home of popular animal characters like Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny, has released the results of a new study looking at the role pets and animals play in family life.

© soloway

Conducted in six countries (South Africa, France, Italy, Sweden, Turkey and the UK), the study revealed that locally, 72% of South African families laugh at least once a day because of something their pet does, citing kissing, licking or chasing someone or something, hiding and jumping out at someone and human-like behaviour as some of the most common causes of laughter. The most common reasons parents cited for getting a family pet was to teach their children about responsibility. 

The survey revealed that kids in South Africa do the most pet-related chores compared to other countries: they said they were the most likely to play with, but also clean up after and exercise, their pets. Added to this, 41% of parents claimed their pet had brought the family together, 44% said their pet reduced stress and 25% felt their pet had made family members more caring and considerate. An amazing 67% of children consider their pets to be their best friend. Furthermore, with a whopping 89%, the most common family pets proved to be dogs followed by cats, fish and birds across urban and rural South Africa.

Therapeutic for children
Dogs, cats, and “pocket pets” like ferrets, birds, or lizards are therapeutic for children who struggle with any disability: physical, behavioural and developmental. Most people are familiar with therapy dogs. Dogs are regularly cited as having a natural affinity with humans and have be known to reduce depression and anxiety. Claire Voges, social worker and animal-assisted practitioner at Pawz and Play says, “The benefits of interacting with a companion animal, especially a dog have been well researched. What is fascinating is that the health benefits are reciprocal – both the dog and the human after interacting, have increased levels of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – these are the happy chemicals that are released in the brain.”

Looking specifically at the impact of on-screen animals, more than half of South African parents (59%) said they let their children watch TV shows and videos featuring animals because they educate about nature, with almost half also stating that it’s because animals make their children laugh and smile. Educating about emotions (41%) and because animal programming tends to be about safer topics (21%) were also referenced among the most common reasons. 

Digital documenting of one’s pets has become incredibly common too, with 80% of parents and kids admitting they take photos or videos of their pet at least once a week – emulating the global phenomenon achieved by hilarious animal videos online, as well as a raft of “famous” animal Instragramers that now exist on the social media platform.

Strategic use of animals
Thanks to this study, Boomerang is now able to tailor their experiences and shows to reflect the results seen, in order to fully gauge families across Africa. The Boomerang Mini Zoo and the Safari Comedy Show are two examples of how Boomerang aims to attract and win the hearts of their consumers. Through the strategic use of animals, comedic humour and locally selected talent, the channel is slowly giving their audience what they want to see through a series of relevant, local experiences on and off the screen. 

Jaime Ondarza, senior vice president Southern Europe and Africa says: “This study is a sweet little reminder that it’s the small things that can really bring families together through laughter and happiness. We are really proud to say that we are the TV incarnation of just that – a channel where families can sit together, smile, laugh and learn whilst having fun!” 

In addition, Ondarza states that “At Boomerang, we constantly strive to reinforce the love that families have with our characters (and their cousins) on and off screen. 2017 has been a great year so far; with our animal pet focus approach, we have successfully rolled out our nation-wide Boomerang Mini Mobile Zoo activation, followed by the channels unique, and locally produced series of shorts using Tumi Morake and Eric Omundi as the main animal voices behind the Safari Comedy Show.”

The Safari Comedy Show, launching on 17 July 2017, is a series of locally produced shorts and one of Boomerang’s first local productions to make use of familiar, locally relevant talent to voiceover clips of some of Africa’s most hilarious animals. For more on Boomerang, click here.


Special request from NSPCA regarding Mandela Day

Premises not big enough to accommodate large groups.

The spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (NSPCA) , Chris Kuch has made a special request to the public regarding Mandela Day.

“The Roodepoort Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (SPCA) fondly remembers our beloved Madiba who was the Patron-in-Chief of the SPCA in South Africa until his passing.

“In recognising his compassion, wisdom and community-mindedness, we invite members of our own community to recognise and contribute to his legacy of kindness on his birthday – Tuesday 18 July 2017,” Kuch wrote in a press release.

“Mandela Day has become inspirational and focuses on people dedicating 67 minutes on that day to the greater good, this being one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service. There are many ways to assist, but we advise that the Roodepoort SPCA cannot accommodate large groups of people.

“We appreciate that Mandela Day in 2017 is a working day. Not everyone can take time off work nor can companies afford to allow time off for staff, no matter how good the cause. So may we suggest ways in which people may pay tribute on Mandela Day without impacting on their working lives.

“Why not spend 67 minutes doing any one of the following,” Kuch wrote.

“Should individuals and companies wish to make a gesture of goodwill towards the animals in our care, collections of blankets and food for our animals may be made. We also suggest that quality used items including clothing or household items – as well as books – can be donated for onward sale to raise valued funds. If every resident in our area donated R67, the boost to our finances would be considerable and we would be able to assist so many more animals,” suggested Kuch.

“Companies as well as individuals may take out a MY SCHOOL card and spend 67 minutes asking others to do the same. This is at no cost to the card-holder ever, yet a percentage of what has been spent each time the card is swiped, goes to the beneficiary,” said Kuch.

By: Riaan van Zyl
Roodepoort Report


SA Guide-Dogs Association – World Sight Gala Dinner

Date: 14 October 2017




Dancers Love Dogs

Date: 1 November 2017

SA Guide-Dogs Association – Big Splash

Date: 25 November 2017

Los Angeles to ban use of all wild animals in circuses

The city council of the nation’s second largest city – and the capital of the entertainment industry – today unanimously voted to ban the exhibition of wild or exotic animals for entertainment, including circuses, other wild animal shows, displays in public areas such as on sidewalks or parks, and rentals for house parties or events.

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu sponsored the measure, which won the support of all the council members, and HSUS National Council member Cheri Shankar and the Performing Animal Welfare Society led the external effort to pass it. This reform substantially builds on a 2014 policy banning the use of bullhooks to handle captive elephants that was instrumental in causing Ringling Bros. to no longer use elephants in their shows.

This is not the final step, but it sets the 15-member city council on a very clear path to enact this forward-looking policy in the weeks ahead.

Los Angeles was the site of an HSUS event this past Saturday night, with a roster of notables, including Pharrell Williams, Diane Keaton, James Caan, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, and a cadre of local and state elected officials in California. It was especially fitting and appropriate for the Los Angeles City Council to take action so quickly after this stirring event and to cement its place among America’s most humane cities.

Other cities that have passed similar bans in recent years include the city of San Francisco, and several counties in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina. But Los Angeles is by far the largest jurisdiction to enact such a ban.

Just a few years ago, Los Angeles banned the use of bullhooks for elephants, and there was a spirited fight. But with Ringling earlier this year announcing it was shutting down its entire circus –which featured lion and tiger acts, among other wild animals on exhibition – the circus industry lost its biggest political protector. Today lawmakers approved the ban with little dissent, demonstrating how public attitudes are shifting dramatically in favor of animal protection and the lobbying force of the circus industry is now negligible.

A 2015 Gallup poll found that 69 percent of Americans are concerned about the use of wild animals in circuses and according to a November 2016 article in Forbes magazine, circus attendance in the United States has dropped an estimated 30 to 50 percent over the last 20 years. Gross revenue from circuses fell almost nine percent between 2007 and 2012.

People now understand much more clearly the physical and behavioral needs of elephants, tigers, lions, and other wild animals, and it’s painfully obvious that circuses cannot meet those needs with their constant chaining, caging, and travel schedules. Trained with pain and the fear of punishment, caged and chained in trucks and trailers, forced to endure months of grueling travel, and bullied to perform silly tricks, animals in circuses and other traveling displays are victims and not willing performers.

These spectacles are dangerous for animals and even occasionally for people. Just in the last few years, a tiger knocked down and dragged a trainer across a pen as she screamed for help at a Pensacola, Florida, fair during a performance for a children’s field trip. The tiger was beaten and the trainer required surgery for her injuries. During a photo shoot in Detroit, Michigan, a tiger got loose in a building and trainers used an electric weed whacker to get the animal out of a stairwell and eventually back into a cage. Three elephants performing at a Shrine Circus in St. Charles, Missouri, ran amok in a parking lot for 45 minutes, damaging multiple vehicles. At another Shrine Circus in Salina, Kansas, a tiger escaped during a performance and a woman narrowly escaped harm after coming face to face with the tiger in an arena restroom.

The era of wild animal acts in circuses and even in movies and television is waning. New forms of entertainment and technology will replace them, and the only question we’ll ask is, why did it take so long? Thanks to the City of Angels for helping show the way.

Source: A Humane Nation