Don’t Shop, Adopt: My Visit to the AACL

stray dog on dirt roadMy visit to the AACL: “He is convinced the dogs know their time has come. Despite the silence and the painlessness of the procedure, despite the good thoughts that Bev Shaw thinks and that he tries to think, despite the airtight bags in which they tie the newmade corpses, the dogs in the yard smell what is going on inside. They flatten their ears, they droop their tails, as if they too feel the disgrace of dying; locking their legs, they have to be pulled or pushed or carried over the threshold. On the table some snap wildly left and right, some whine plaintively; none will look straight at the needle in Bev’s hand, which they somehow know is going to harm them terribly.”Disgrace by JMCoetzee

Although whilst reading this book at the time and thinking of the stainless steel tables so often seen in vet surgeries, when faced with animals in need, there’s no amount of literature that will truly transfer the feelings of those environments.

On Friday morning I woke up at 6am. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t because today was the day I was picking up my new kitty! I’ve been playing baby sitter with many of my friends’ cats over the last 2 years because my work commitments have held me back from getting my own. I received my first cat when I was 5 years old and she lived until she was 15, that I can recall, maybe longer. I’ve never had my own pet again because I believe in quality of life. Because my schedule has settled down I decided it was time.

AACL LogoOn Friday morning I sat in rush hour traffic in the middle of Bonteheuwel making my way to the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (recommended by a friend who had also gotten her cat there). Upon arrival there weren’t many cars but there was a queue of people with their dogs. Although I had requested permission to be a bit late for work, I couldn’t wait in THAT long of a queue so I went forward to ask where the adoptions took place. Whilst waiting I turned to a man with his alsatian and asked, “Why are there so many dogs here?” He just looked at me so I repeated, “I don’t understand why there are so many dogs here?” He just shrugged at me and looked back. I figured it was early, not a chatty guy, the dogs were barking really loudly so I just went back to minding my business.

Hand reaching for dog paw, dog high fiveWhilst I waited to be brought into the office to complete the adoption forms, my eye caught the title on the lady’s form who was accompanying the man with the alsatian. The lady had an Euthanasia Form and a R200 note in her hand. I froze. I couldn’t think of anything except of how empty my mind suddenly went. Empty. I turned and looked at the shaggy dog looking anxious next to its owner. I then turned back and walked over to my partner to hug him. I could not control my emotions or hold back my tears. I was totally overwhelmed.

I didn’t want the dog people to see OR the adoption people to see I was crying because I didn’t want them to think I was a crazy cat lady with a cat! Amongst the incredible tension, emotion, heavy energy with dogs bark, bark, barking, I pulled myself together. We were ushered into the back office where the tension was immediately halved. A little white and ginger house cat sat contently on the back of the couch whilst a little puppy hung its nose over its dog basket. Peace, for a moment.

kitten face with white nose and stripey head with big earsThe puppies who were also there ready to be adopted started barking which set them all off and all the tension that had been dissolved worked its way up again. But I met Justine and Tammy who work there and who couldn’t have been lovelier. I HONESTLY do not know how they work there. Their desire to help animals must be enormous because I wouldn’t mind never going back there again! Justine introduced us to the little girl who I had picked off the AACL Facebook Page…who we thought was a boy but turned out to be a girl! She was tiny even though I was told that she wouldn’t be snapped up because she’d been there a while and people only wanted tiny kittens, what a joke!

I completed my forms as fast as possible without seeming impolite. Put little Yoda into her new cat box, payed my measly R250 adoption free (these people should charge A LOT more just for going to work every day!) and hit the road jack. My boyfriend and I drove away feeling totally shell shocked. I can’t image what they place is like in winter!

kitten pulling on feather boaWe’re very happy to have our beautiful Yoda home with us. She’s SUCH a loving girl, already uses her cat litter box (at 3 months old!), is finding her voice and learning to jump from couch to couch already. I IMPLORE anyone reading this, as they say, “Don’t shop, adopt”. The Animal Anti-Cruelty League does incredible work and support for communities who can’t afford the pet health services. Should you ever have any extra funds or blankets or food, please contact them. I really want to make a difference myself and have already asked everything to link their Woolworths cards to the AACL. Together we can make a difference and help animals of Cape Town who can’t always help themselves. Let’s continue to be a proud animal city.

P.S If you’re more of a dog person, why to join the AACL’s Paws Through the Vine for a walk in the vineyards with your doggie!

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