Shelter Profile: Dogtown SA

DogTownDogtown SA (or Barking Mad as many people know it) is a centre unlike any other. Rather than a shelter, Dogtown is a rehabilitation centre for up to 140 formerly abused and unwanted dogs. Each dog’s journey to his full potential begins with a full veterinary check-up. Once the dog receives a clean bill of health, vaccinations and sterilisation are the next steps forward to rehabilitation.

The centre employs trainers and caregivers to work with the dogs on a daily basis, while behaviourists develop behaviour- and diet-modification programmes. If a resident cannot be homed for reasons of old age or excessive veterinary maintenance, for example, he stays for life. Residents receive the best accommodation, food and veterinary care money can buy.

Long-term volunteers at Dogtown play a valuable role in exercising and socialising the dogs on weekends. Volunteer training involves a five-step programme with workshops held on Saturdaymornings. Visits to the centre are by appointment only to avoid distracting the staff from their work and disruption to the dogs’ daily routine.

Prior to opening the centre in 2009, founder Tracy McQuarrie constructed a website called Barking Mad with the sole intention of assisting other shelters to feed their charges. Thus the sponsored ‘click-to-feed’ initiative was launched. With more than 20,000 site visitors each day, this feeding programme enables Dogtown to donate more than one ton of food to other shelters countrywide each month.

Tracy currently rents premises in Midrand, Gauteng, but dreams of the day when she can transport all her dogs to a peaceful and permanent home of their own. Each dog, funds permitting, has his or her own Wendy house, designed to make Dogtown their true home. The more sociable dogs share accommodation and gardens. Toys are very important to mentally stimulate the rescues between training and walks.

Aims and goals: To build the best rehabilitation centre in Africa.

Main tasks: To erect secure fencing around the perimeter of the property – 1.5km.

Who are the people behind the scenes? Tracy McQuarrie, Elanza Kloppers, Gordon and Joanna Banks.

How can you help? SMS ‘Dog’ to 38919 to donate R10; commit to a small monthly debit order; get a MySchool Card, or change your beneficiary to Dogtown SA.

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