Cape Town has a street dog population of over 200,000; and this number is increasing. The dogs, often malnourished and flea-ridden, roam the streets of mainly townships, and lead lives that we wouldn’t wish upon the canine companions that we breed and make part of our families. Yet it seems to be a largely overlooked issue.
As I Googled around to find out more about Cape Town’s street dog population, I noticed that in most of the news articles that came up, the emphasis of the problem is placed on the effect it has on humans. People could contract rabies or other diseases from street dogs, and every now and then, somebody gets attacked by a dog. (Though as far as I understand, this is rare.) While these are obviously problems that needs to be addressed, I can’t help but wonder, What about the suffering of the thousands of dogs (and cats)? Why does that not even get mentioned in these media? Why is it so underexposed?
We domesticated dogs. We make them part of our families. We train them to work alongside us and do important jobs. Yet we let them suffer in large numbers.
There are, of course, some amazingly dedicated animal shelters and charities in Cape Town. While the problem is much too large to keep under control, these charities do everything in their capacity to rescue dogs and run vaccination and education programs. One of these charities is TEARS, an animal shelter based on the Southern Peninsula. Below are some of the many gorgeous, loving, and deserving dogs they have in their care.