Being the Fundraising and Communications Manager at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic Khayelitsha, my days are mainly spent behind the computer. A typical day consists of going through and answering between 50 – 100 emails, managing our facebook account, updating our website, writing newsletters and writing funding appeals.
Some of my other responsibilities are creating fun fundraising products such as our end of the year calendar and Christmas cards.
Organising events such as our kennel building days, writing press releases, having on air interviews with radio stations and newspapers and a range of other things.
As a result I get to spend very little time with the animals – the dogs and cats that I adore and love so much.
Often I yearn to spend more time with them and wish that I could work hands on with them every day but I know that my strengths lie behind the scenes and that my work is just as important to ensure that Mdzananda has sufficient funds and that people know and support us.
My favourite day of the week is a Wednesday. This is the day when I go to the clinic for our weekly management meeting. As soon as I arrive at Mdzananda I start smiling.
Our three resident dogs Bones, Cutie and AJ race to the gate to greet me with tails wagging and tummy tickles expected. Ginger, our resident cat also always comes to greet me, either with loving purring or with a few playful nips to the hand.
My first stop before I greet any of the staff is our hospital. I walk from cage to cage and tickle every little pet that is receiving treatment. Some look at me with happy faces and wagging tails while others lie still in too much pain to move. I can tell that each one of them is happy to see a friendly face.
On a specific Wednesday in October I got to witness a life being saved – I got to witness what Mdzananda is all about.
While I was speaking to our receptionist two young boys and an older man brought a dog to our reception room. This dog was shaking from head to toe, panting excessively and continuously moving her head from side to side – it seemed as if she was trying to escape from her own body.
Not knowing what the problem was, I raced to the hospital to call our veterinary nurse. She took one look at the dog and realised that there was a serious problem. Fluffy had been poisoned. Fluffy was taken to the hospital and I watched as our veterinary nurse and two hospital assistants started to try and save Fluffy’s life.
Firstly an intravenous drip was set up to ensure that Fluffy remained well hydrated so that her kidneys were able to flush the toxins out of her body.
Inserting a cannula when a dog is in the middle of a seizure requires good team work, which the amazing staff at Mdzananda demonstrated by staying calm and focussed.
Next she was given an i.v. injection of diazepam which is a powerful sedative to reduce the symptoms of the over-active nervous system. Her temperature had already risen to over 40, and needed to be monitored carefully.
Fortunately she vomited soon afterwards which cleared some of the ingested poison from her stomach and prevented more of it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
She was still in a state of seizure and the temperature rose to beyond the maximum reading on the thermometer – at over 42.5 her brain was literally starting to fry! A second dose of diazepam was given and she was covered in wet towels and surrounded with ice packs in an attempt to bring her temperature down as quickly as possible.
Her symptoms were fairly typical of organophosphate poisoning, but, without knowing for sure, the decision about whether to treat with atropine – the only effective antidote, but a potentially dangerous drug – had to be made based on intuition.
Fortunately the right decision was made and Fluffy started to calm down. The next 24 hours would be critical and there was no way of knowing whether she would pull through.
Organophosphates were originally used in biological warfare in the 1940’s and were commonly referred to as Nerve Agents because their primary target is the nervous system. Today they are commonly used in insecticides and agricultural pesticides as well as some flea and tick treatments!
To everyone’s delight Fluffy was able to walk the next morning, wobbly and dazed but alive. But her struggle was not over – it seemed the unknown poison had burnt her esophagus and stomach lining and both food and water were immediately vomited up. She spent another 36 hours on a drip with regular small doses of Ulsanic to line the mucous membranes and help them heal.
That day I witnessed the miracle of Mdzananda. I was in awe of the calmness of our veterinary nurse during which an urgent situation was dealt with and I was in awe of the love I felt in the room.
Fluffy recovered well and as soon as she was able to eat and drink normally she went home to her family. Her owners were overjoyed to see that she recovered so well and were grateful to have her back at home.
This is an experience I will never forget and was just one of the many lives that are saved at Mdzananda every day. I am so grateful to be a part of this wonderful team and organisation.
You can read more about the Mdzananda Animal Clinic on their website here.
To donate: SMS “donate dog” to 48748 at R10
Mdzananda Animal Clinic
Account no: 075595710
Branch code: 025009
Reference: Donation Type + Your Name