The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) provides pet healthcare services and education around caring for pets for residents in Masiphumelele and surrounding areas in the Western Cape.
The organisation was started by animal welfare workers Marilyn Hoole and Joan Brown in memory of their close friend, Emma Geary-Cooke, an animal enthusiast.
“We offer primary healthcare and education to support communities as they look after and live with their animals,” says Tinka Shapiro, puppy manager and volunteer coordinator at TEARS.
“Education in particular is critical in some areas as much neglect is as a result of a lack of understanding and knowledge.”
Many residents are not familiar with deworming, vaccinations and sterilisation procedures to help keep their animals healthy and prevent unwanted litters.
To reach the communities in the area, TEARS has a mobile clinic making daily trips to identify animals needing attention. The organisation conducts sterilisations for free and also sterilises every animal it takes into care.
In 2004 TEARS joined Community-Led Animal Welfare, affiliated to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and received a grant to expand its operations.
“We are always expanding. We took on the Vrygrond area recently as there was a need for our presence and assistance. Our recent outreach project has also increased our reach to areas as far as Atlantis, offering support as and how we are able to,” says Shapiro.
In July 2005 the organisation opened a clinic, manned by a veterinarian and support staff and regular volunteers.
It is the only animal clinic catering to the needs of disadvantaged communities in the Southern Peninsula, and treats animals with conditions ranging from biliary and gastro-intestinal disorders to musculoskeletal problems and bite wounds.
The organisation also rescues abandoned animals and at any given time cares for more than 300 creatures. It aims to home them with loving adopted families and has placed more than 11 000 animals.
“We make a difference in many animals’ lives even if there are many that we don’t get to,” says Shapiro.
“… There is nothing more rewarding than looking into a puppy’s eyes and seeing that hopeful look of ‘save me’. Then in a little time those eyes turn to smiles and they have been given a chance at a better life.”
The organisation also rescues wild animals, which are rehabilitated and then returned to the wild.
In 2008 the IFAW cut funding to TEARS; since then the organisation has opened three charity shops selling donated second-hand goods to raise funds to continue its work. There are three shops, in Bergvliet, Fish Hoek and Sunnydale, and two book shops, in Bergvliet and Sunnydale. The organisation also sells Christmas cards and calendars featuring animals and new issues are available annually.
“Financial support in terms of donations and private funding is always the biggest challenge as the expansion and delivery of services is dependent on the funding available,” says Shapiro.
“We do not get any government funding and rely entirely on the money from our revenue streams [charity and book shops] as well as bequeaths, private and corporate donations.”
A team of cyclists “Riding for Rescue” will also compete in the Argus Cycle Tour to raise funds for the organisation.
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