March '08

Whew! What a morning! But the attached picture will show you just why I am late, again! Animal Welfare transferred a call to me for two donkeys on the wrong side of Main Road, Walmer, in fact, in the depths of surburbia. Once I had collected Alf after my meeting, we caught the jenny and foal and proceeded to walk them home. No problem until we hit Villiers Road and then Heugh Road. It is amazing what the orange Midas bibs can bring to the attention of motorists. All slowed down and stopped while we got the donkeys across the busy roads. And the delighted caller and her eldest child both got the chance to hug a donkey which she had never done before. Mr Sam, one of 'my' NMMM Cowboys with whom I have worked together over the last two years, also pitched up, but only after the final Heugh hurdle had been crossed - but it was good to see him. Job done!

As I find that it is difficult at the end of the month to remember all the tidbits you might like to hear, I have been trying to have a permanent draft email going in an attempt to put an incident down when it is still fresh in my mind. I hope it works for you!

There was much excitement on the 3rd day of March! Two weeks prior to this, a man known to us, took a cart and two donkeys away from the legitimate owner and went to the other side of town, with no intention of bring the 'stolen goods' back. This of course meant dire trouble for the owner as he could not work and earn money! As I work quite closely with the local Walmer Police Station (and they have been extremely supportive of my 'missions' over the years), I took the owner to open a Case at the station. I also called in the Stock Theft Unit with my rather unusual 'missing goodies'. Another Policeman on the northern side of town was also contacted and asked to send out an APB for Cart No. 9.

I got a Stock Theft visitation to say that an arrest had been affected, and the cart and the donkeys were also in their possession and could I help? Needless to say, I dropped everything, hitched up the horsebox, grabbed the groom, and as luck would have it, the legit owner also pitched up right at that very minute to see if anything had been done! We all tootled off in convoy with the trusty Policemen and after much pushing and shoving (and a fair amount of intimidation from the alleged perpetrator in the back of the van), loaded two donkeys into the horsebox, dismantled the cart and loaded it onto the back of the bakkie, and after a phonecall to a NMMM Traffic Inspector (who has indicated his willingness to work with me) to give me traffic clearance, slowly made our way home with flashing emergency lights. Of course, pulling this load into the Walmer Police Station had a few people giggling helplessly but I was fine, Jack, I had my donkeys back!

After a few days R and R with us, the one donkey was returned to its owner and the other is going to stay around for a while because it will not be long before she foals down! The cart has been reassembled and now we just have to wait and see the course of Justice.

This of course has led to me buying chains and locks for the Carters that request them to secure the wheels of their carts, especially as I was informed that another 'purloining' of a cart was about to happen. Luckily, I was able to get Walmer Police Station to go in to the township at 9.30 at night to warn the owner so that he was prepared!!

To compound matters even further, another donkey was taken from its rightful owner, this time in Motherwell! The rightful owner somehow found his way all the way to the HCU, and he was advised to go and see if he could see the donk. A few days later, an excited phonecall was received saying that he had found it and could I please come now! Of course, what a question.

The donkey was taken into our care, the SAPS Stock Theft Unit called, and the owner taken to Walmer Police Station to make his statement. I am happy to report that although tired and hungry, the donkey has recovered from his 'trip' and has been returned to Motherwell (with a State Vet permit in hand).

Not something that anyone does with any happiness, but something that is sometimes required.

Two cases in the last month have been attended to:

A pony with an illustrious history going back 30 years, and that found itself at a riding school looking half the pony she used to be due to age and wear and tear. After empathetic discussions, the pony was voluntarily euthanased and now I will sleep better knowing that in the end, she went with dignity.

A horse owner, on deciding to euthanase due to age and a hard life before he found his late owner, asked me to assist with getting the job done. She had been given a hard time by some folk, but was determined to give the thoroughbred a fond farewell under controlled circumstances rather than perhaps finding that the horse was in yet another not nice situation in a few months/years time as so often happens. It meant a final walk on Good Friday to where the euthanasia was going to be done, before I went to church, but both she and I feel a lot better about the situation now.

To horse and pony - Rest In Peace.

As many of you are aware, the ECHCU leases the stables and some camps from the AWS on the Schoenies Road. As you are aware, from time to time things happen that just need that teensy weensy bit of help - and so I thank Hannes for jumping out of his vehicle to assist getting a donkey onto the horsebox, Pieter, Sidwell and Eric for always being prepared to lend a hand with a recalcitrant donk or to just give a kind pat, and Sharon who willingly bats for me when I am unable to do so - Thank You, very sincerely.

Yes - you read right! There was this little donk who was feeling very poorly and was collected from Kwanobuhle and brought in for vet treatment. She just looked so shabby and knotted and positively rastafarian! So, with help from Kerry (another AWS employee) who was most intrigued with what I was doing, we cut all the dreads off, and gave her a bath with shampoo.

As the little donk is quite feisty, she had to be tied to the fence pole in order to get the job done, but wow, did she look good afterwards and I am sure she felt a lot better too. She also has been returned home (with State Vet permit), to an owner who was happy to have a live donkey back, as well as a spruced up one. Thank you, Kerry.

What can I say? Absolute disaster for all horse owners, but even more so for township horse owners. It is heartbreaking to see a man whose only means of transport to the clinic, the shops, to collect wood for sale to his neighbours, absolutely shattered over his dead animals (altogether he lost three fat beautiful horses). I know that I for one have taken totally for granted our access to phones, veterinary care, equine knowledge, transport, etc. And the fact that one can only do one's best, and still land up with a carcass for removal, makes it even sadder.

The Chairlady of the PE Riding Club, Juliet Scallan, organised a meeting in Lovemore Park following the death of two horses from African Horse Sickness in that area. It was absolutely stunning to see all those folk from all over town coming to hear if there was anything else they could do to prevent this disease becoming a permanent feature of our landscape. She had asked Dr Hayward to address the meeting and he had put together a great Power Point presentation to illustrate his points. The State Vet has also been forthcoming with information, permits, and assisting where they can. Of the 300 vaccines the Unit was donated by the Thoroughbred Breeders African Horse Sickness Trust is down to about 20 vaccines - and not all of the vaccines were used on township animals. Many other horses in rural areas have also benefitted.

Unfortunately for some, the vaccines came too late.

But the important part was how many horse owners voluntarily quarantined their farms - rather no riding for a couple of weeks and having a live horse at the end of it, than a dead horse forever! Unfortunately, not everyone is doing likewise.

This month there was also the horse owner who walked from way up the Elands River Road all the way to Kwanobuhle to find another horse owner who could tell him how to find us. His problem was huge. Somebody had given him 'dip for the horses', but it turned out to be Triatrix - an absolutely no no for equines - and 3 of his horses were definitely not happy. Clearly they could not be vaccinated right then, and he was instructed to give them a real good wash in dishwashing liquid to remove as much of the poison as possible. Obviously I have told him that when some time has elapsed, he will get his vaccinations and proper horse tick dip. Again, a lack of knowledge on one hand and uneducated information on the other!

Warm fuzzy:

  • The donkey called Jackie Chan - because when it sees someone it does not like, it runs across, spins round and does a kick with its hind legs at the 'offending' person!
  • All the donations into our collection tins and direct into the bank account. It means that every one of you have paid a portion of costs involved with the Unit activities. I thank you for helping us to help them. Be proud of your contribution, however small or large.
  • The look of pure pleasure on a donkey's face when fresh greens are added to the diet from my dog food manufacturer.
  • My new horse owners who with a bit of assistance and handling tips are finding that they are now able to catch and handle their horses, and hopefully one day they will be able to ride them.
  • To all SAPS personnel who assist me wherever I find them - Capt Du Randt, Insp Kleinhans, Capt Nomala, Insp Jerling, Captain Rall.

Cold Prickly

  • The taste of equine dewormer in your mouth when the recipient gets difficult when being dosed - Ughhhhhh!
  • Finding that one has been stroking a donkey with a spider keeping warm in its long croup hair! Eeeeeeeeeek! Has subsequently been identified by local Herpi, Mark Marshall, as a Baboon Spider Here is his reply: Can you believe it- this is a real baboon spider. The biggest spider in the Eastern Cape. It belongs to the old world tarantula family. It is highly protected in the Eastern Cape. Very Good find. Its bite is painful but not dangerous.yet again-very good find. I am so glad I did not know about this at the time!
  • The way my eyes burn when my face sweats in the heat and deposits moisturiser and sunscreen into them!