Words: Ashraf Hendricks
Published originally on www.grounup.co.za
Away from the beaches and lagoons for which the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay is famous, at 8am on a Saturday morning in the industrial area, crowds of people gather with their dogs that run around playing, barking, and causing a ruckus alongside their owners who are queueing down the street.
It is overcast and cold, so to keep them warm, the smaller pups are held by their owners, squeezed against their chests, or cuddled under their coats. All these pet owners, many of them children, are waiting for assistance for themselves and their pets.
For more than three years, volunteers who go by the name Muddy Pooches, have been distributing pet food, human food and animal assistance to local communities.
It started in 2017, when a group of children asked for assistance with their dogs, says Marelé Pretorius, one of the founders of the organisation. “The dogs had goeters (ticks) on them,” she says.
Pretorius took 10 children and six dogs on the back of a bakkie to the nearby vet.
With her friend, Tanya Hyde, they decided to offer assistance every Saturday morning. “Now we get at least 250 people coming through for assistance,” says Pretorius.
“We do something because we’re human,” says Hyde. “These children know that they’ve got somebody to come to, whether it is a problem with their dog, a problem with mom, a problem with a cut on their foot, or whatever. We are here.”