The furry magic of CLAWS

Volunteering for CLAWS

I found out about the Clanwilliam Animal Welfare Society – CLAWS – through my visits to Oudrif. Last year, I volunteered for the first time to assist during one of their pet sterilisation/vaccination projects. I found the experience so rewarding that I travelled to Clanwilliam for Tuesday and Wednesday this week to help however I could again.

We had a much better venue – the Aquatic Club at the Clanwilliam Dam Resort – with electricity (apart from loadshedding) / generator, toilets, running water and a stunning view. Two vets and two veterinary nurses joined forces with Jeanine, who is a qualified veterinary paramedic, in helping the animals of Clanwilliam and area in attaining a better quality of life wherever they came from and whatever the challenges their humans were facing in their everyday life. No one was turned away.

Whereas last time I mainly helped Jeanine collect the animals and bring them home after their operations/treatments, this time I only briefly accompanied her on one of her trips.

For the most part, I assisted the volunteers who were watching over the animals in recovery: this involves monitoring their breathing and general well-being, cleaning up when they cannot control their body functions after anesthetics, turning and massaging their unconscious bodies as they gradually wake up, and making sure that they are safely back in their cages before they become fully conscious of what’s happening (particularly crucial with feral animals who freak out the moment they are back among the living).

Around a hundred animals were treated during those two days. We lost one – I watched the attending vet try to resuscitate the cat for about twenty minutes, but nothing could be done. Her efforts were herculean. We all felt the loss. One other cat had an epileptic fit, but made it through. One dog and his human arrived from a nearby farm after the dog had an unlucky encounter with a porcupine. (For the moment, the area does not have a permanent vet, so the two were fortunate that the fight happened during the project, and they did not have to travel to Piketberg to find help.) Everyone was taken care of with love – no matter the vomit, ticks, fleas and all. Those in need were assisted with food and whatever else was available.

Natalie from The Hoghouse (where you can buy Jeanine’s handmade beauty products which she makes at Oudrif to raise funding and awareness for CLAWS) was also there with her bakkie, fortitude and compassion – I watched her catch a feral feline runaway with her bare hands and still cannot believe what I saw. She has been assisting CLAWS in all kinds of ways for many years. (She took the photo of me with the recovering animals.)

We spent the night at Oudrif, where after a full day of work with other animals, Jeanine still attended to her Furry Family and two rescue pigeons. Bill cooked a wonderful veg lasagna and even had a glass of bubbly ready for us. I walked to my cottage exhausted, but the Milky Way was smiling above me, the hot shower was blissful, and the few hours of sleep deeper than ever despite the five o’clock wake-up for the second day of work.

If you want to experience Oudrif, they have a fantastic special on at the moment:


(I will be there for the flowers again. After this autumn’s rains, they will be fabulous!)

The most efficient way to support CLAWS is a direct donation:

Clanwilliam Animal Welfare Society, FNB account 629 2008 5504, branch 250655.

They are a registered NPO. Everyone is struggling at the moment, and they are no exception. It will take months for the organisation to pay off their project debts, but they soldier on regardless.

At Oudrif, you can also buy Karavan Press books. All proceeds go directly to CLAWS.

These two will fly again. And the rescue kitten who travelled with me back to Cape Town yesterday has found a wonderful forever home.

Guess who has already volunteered to help with the next CLAWS project … :)

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