Festive cheer for four-legged friends


Donkey cart owners Bulungisile Chagi (yellow T-shirt) and Thabani Nkompo pose for as photo at the Donkey Carnival and care day at the Albany Field on Saturday 8 December 2018. Photo: Sue Maclennan

A parade of 27 donkey carts with their owners and families, followed by a day of treatment and care, was the colourful finale to a fortnight of festive cheer for Makhanda’s (Grahamstown’s) animals. The handover of a collection of pet food and care products to the Grahamstown SPCA by Santa Cause for Paws started the season on a good note and a farm day at Radway Green saw 21 animals treated by community service vets with support from the adjoining Buffalo Kloof reserve, among others.

Equine dental technician Donovan Lamerton assisted by his son Joash (8) had a queue of 48 donkeys waiting to have their teeth filed at the final stage of the Donkey Carnival at Albany Field on Saturday 8 December. The treatment day followed the colourful annual Donkey Parade.

Twenty-seven donkey carts with two donkeys each, three horses and  three dogs took part in the  festive procession from Fingo Square to the Albany Field, where the carts were judged on the overall health and welfare of the animals, the quality of their harnesses and the mechanical soundness of the carts.

The event is organised annually. Driving force Annerie Wolmarans said this was her 30th Donkey Carnival. The SPCA’s Mark Thomas helped co-ordinate this year’s event, and was one of the judges. In addition to the dental work the donkeys were getting, veterinarian Annie Mears from Amakhala game reserve supervised complete health checks, wound treatment, hoof trimming and cleaning and tick treatment.

A number of experts volunteered their time and services, with Helen Grapes from Kleinemond administering tick grease to the donkeys.

Outgoing Grahamstown SPCA Manager Mark Thomas shares some dog-handling tips with children at the Donkey Carnival and care day at the Albany Field on Saturday 8 December 2018. Photo: Sue Maclennan

A skill of outgoing SPCA Manager Mark Thomas is mechanical maintenance. He spent the day hands-on, greasing all the wheel bearings on all the carts and showing the owners this important maintenance skill.

Medication for the donkeys was provided by the State Veterinarian.

Cart owner Mzikayiso Tsalo said the day was worthwhile.

“It was nice to do this,” he said. “And even though these donkeys are for working, it’s also nice to make them look like this,” he said, pointing to two smart new red harnesses that had been fitted to his donkeys in place of the old gear. The harnesses, made of flat webbing, are also friendlier for the animals because they don’t rub their skin.

Vuyo Sodladla comforts his dog Tessa as she recovers from the anaesthetic after her spaying operation at a treatment and sterilisation day at Radway Green recently. Photo: Sue Maclennan


Compulsory Community Service (CCS) veterinarians doctors Tabitha Prior and Ashley Lemon operate on a dog at a treatment and spay day at Radway Green recently. Photo: Sue Maclennan

The day before, compulsory community service (CCS) vets Brendan Cole (Grahamstown State Vet), Tabitha Prior (Peddie State Vet) and Ashley Lemon (SPCA Clinic) performed sterilisations on dogs and cats at Radway Green south of Grahamstown, as well as general health checks, deworming and wound treatment. Buffalo Kloof reserve provided the setup and logistics, Ikhala Vets  the medical equipment and the SPCA Clinic providing medication.

The team treated 21 animals, with four of those just receiving vaccines.

Resident in the state-built settlement Xolani Gula, who brought his dog, Lion, said he thought it was a great initiative. Vuyo Sodladla, who brought his dog Tessa, said it was the first time something like this had been done in the village.

“We’ve lost some dogs because of disease,” he said. So this is good.”

Veterinarian Dr Bradley Cole operates on a dog at a treatment and spay day at Radway Green recently. Photo: Sue Maclennan

US Army veteran Phillip Lopez comforts a puppy coming for treatment during a treatment and spay day at Radway Green recently. Lopez is one of the US Marine and Army veterans deployed by Vetpaw to the Anti-Poaching Unit at Buffalo Kloof Reserve. Photo: Sue Maclennan

Sashay Bates and Candice Owen (Grey T-shirts) on 1 December 2018 handed over close to R15 000 in cash and goodies to animal welfare organisations in Makhanda (Grahamstown) donated by residents through the Santa Cause for Paws annual collection. With them (from left) are Mark Thomas (SPCA), Lorna Grant (Feral Cat Society), Rika Ferreira (Phoenix Dog Project) and Lynne Grant (Feral Cat Society). Photo: Sue Maclennan

A highlight in local animal care is the annual Santa Cause for Paws collection in Makhanda (Grahamstown) where animal lovers donate cash or goodie boxes made up of treats for either cats or dogs, plus their humans.

Showing their support for the Cause, the Makhanda (Grahamstown) community donated a total of R14800 in cash which went to the Phoenix Dog Project (R4000 plus 100 goodie boxes), the Feral Cat Association (R1 100 – plus 20 dog and 20 cat boxes) and the Grahamstown SPCA (R1 100 – plus 20 dog,20 cat,10 puppy and 10 kitten boxes).

Co-ordinators Shashay Bates and Candice Owen additionally made up 63 boxes, spending around R140 on each box.

Extra donations included 49 dog food cans, 7 puppy food cans, 55kg dog food cubes, 38kg puppy food and 10kg cat food.

All of this was handed over in a happy handover ceremony at the Grahamstown SPCA on 1 December that also marked SPCA Manager Mark Thomas’s last handover. Mark and his wife Tamsyn Thomas this week moved to Johannesburg.

Puddy, the Grahamstown SPCA’s resident cat, takes charge of the Santa Cause for Paws collection handed over at the facility on 1 December. Photo: Sue Maclennan

  • Grocott’s Mail will soon publish online our interview with Thomas about the challenges of managing the Grahamstown SPCA, the couple’s plans and the new centre management. Follow Grocott’s Mail on Facebook and be the first to read the news that matters to you.
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