A long time ago, I had to accept that to bring about massive change and for the greater good, while keeping everyone at SA.MAST marching to the same drum beat, I needed to have a spine of steel and both myself and my family must come second. It however has come at an ever-increasing cost and one I never imagined I would have to keep paying.
I set out to shine a light on what I strongly believed to be the single biggest contributing factor to the pain and suffering of our four-legged friends: Uncontrolled breeding.
To do this, I established SA.MAST way back in 2006 and coined the phrase 'mass sterilisation'. Importantly I was also determined to give this phrase, which had never before been uttered in Cape Town, a tangible meaning.
In 2009 I finally secured the use of a dump site in Khayelitsha. The disgruntled civil servants at the time were forced to do the very least they could for the Khayelitsha community and from there I grew the organisation to what it is today.
In 2010, SA.MAST was once again leading the pack. We called for a mandatory sterilisation bylaw, but opposition to this critically important law has been fierce, some of it has come from expected but also the most unexpected corners and in a manner that begs belief. I stayed the course and have shouted for this bylaw from every rooftop at every opportunity.
Recently, while still performing a diverse set of duties normally assigned to a team of at least five people or more, the safety and security of our employees and the facility I've worked day and night to build, equip, staff, fund and manage was placed in extreme danger. The land invasions surrounding our clinic and hospital with the subsequent rioting brought with it terror and despair. I admit, I came very close to calling it a day.
But I didn't.
To do so would have made a mockery of all the sacrifices, the work I and my team have put into our big, beautiful dreams and the love and support from those who have championed us along the way.
I needed to hold on tight.
I finally secured the cooperation needed to find a safe and suitable site for SA.MAST to relocate to. The new site is perfect. It's close to our current location so still accessible to those caring and responsible cat and dog guardians who walk to our clinic to receive the help they need. It's also tucked away, not on a main route subject to traffic hazards and rioting and best of all, the land surrounding it isn't in any danger of being seized by land invaders or going up in flames because of shack fires. Our patients and our staff will be safe. Relocation should take place in the first six months of 2022.
When the call is made to assist SA.MAST to move, and if you are
in a position to help, I beg of you to to do so.
But I still needed to achieve a last, massive and final step forward. A new animal keeping bylaw had to become a reality. You see, when I finally fall asleep at night, I don't go to sleep alone. The brutalised, mutilated, starving and diseased animals I've held in my arms go to sleep with me too. Sometimes the backyard breeder who threatened to smash my skull in or the ones who pulled a knife on me climb into my bed as well.
In September 2021 this goal
was finally achieved.
Cape Town's new Animal Keeping Bylaw makes it compulsory for all dogs and cats over the age of six months to be sterilised, unless the owner obtains a paid for permit from the City to keep the animal unsterilised.
To view the full new Animal Keeping Bylaw for Cape Town click here.
The law is clear and we can demand
that the authorities enforce it.
It has only been with your support and often-times personal messages encouraging me to keep my chin up that I've been able to, for the best part of my working life, give so much to SA.MAST and the Khayelitsha community
But what SA.MAST needs now is a bigger and more diverse team to share the load and make more big, beautiful dreams come true.
This team will introduce themselves soon. In the meantime, be assured SA.MAST is still sterilising and making a huge difference to the lives of thousands of animals in need.
If you are not a supporter yet, but can afford to be one,
please consider the options below: