Nonprofit Photography Cape Town: Mdzananda Animal Clinic

Cape Town, South Africa, has a substantial and consistent street dog problem. It is estimated that there are around 250,000 homeless dogs in the city, and a fair amount of them roam the streets of Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s townships. Working to fight this issue and to provide support to pet owners in the area too, is Mdzananda Animal Clinic, a nonprofit organisation based in the heart of Khayelitsha. To document the work done by the Mdzananda team, award-winning Australian pet photographer Deb Sulzberger recently volunteered a day of her time. We’re excited to show a selection of her images, accompanied by some background information on Mdzananda’s mission by Marcelle du Plessis, the clinic’s fundraising manager. 

Mdzananda’s mission is to provide companionship and community care for every animal. We work to enhance wellbeing for animals and their community through veterinary health care, education and partnerships. Our aim is to see a community that cares for every animal be it a pet, neighbour’s pet or stray pet. We work on enhancing the wellbeing of animals and their human companions through providing low cost veterinary health care services (below our cost-recovery price), education and by forming partnerships inside and outside of the community.”

Education in the Community

“To really understand the Mdzananda Animal Clinic’s work it is essential to understand the community that it serves. The clinic is based in the Khayelitsha township which is home to approximately 400 000 people (census 2011). The reality is that there are probably closer to one million people living in Khayelitsha today. The township is impoverished, has high levels of crime and violence and there is a lack of education and lack of income. With the low level of jobs and income the community has their own struggles – feeding and caring for themselves. Animal issues are not always at the top of their list. No one is exactly certain how many dogs and cats there are in Khayelitsha but it is estimated that there is a dog and cat for every six people – a staggering 133 350 companion animals.

Due to the lack of knowledge about animals we are faced with many problems such as health problems that could have been prevented with early vaccination and overpopulation that could have been prevented with sterilisation. Not understanding pets needs sometimes means that pets are not admitted for help on time, a dog with a broken leg could be left laying in the yard for a week before being brought to us for assistance as people don’t realise that pets need urgent medical care as humans do. We do a lot of educational outreach, but our small team is not currently large enough to implement large scale educational outreach. We are currently applying for funding so as to put together a full time education team.

In a community like ours people come with very deeply ingrained cultural beliefs. Unfortunately most of these beliefs are not based in science. Harm is done to pets due to the beliefs of the culture or “home remedies” that have been spread across the community e.g. a cat was set alight as it was believed to be cursed and that people were using the cat for which craft.”

Lack of Resources & Finances

“Every year the amount of patients admitted to our clinic for assistance and the amount of people visiting our organisation grows. The need for our services is enormous but the funding does not always match this need. Funding to keep our organisation going is always a touchy subject and it feels as if we are never getting our heads above water. We have vast ideas of how to improve and do more for the community, but funding is what limits one. This year alone we lost 64% of the funding that was being given to us from our largest donor. Our largest funder gave us notice of funding withdrawal. They will be withdrawing over the duration of 2017 – 2019. Their funding covered around 65% of our expenses. This year alone they deducted their funding by 64% and will reduce further until full extraction in 2020.”

Find out how to donate to Mdzananda Animal Clinic! 

“We have looked at the funding that we have lost as well as the extra funding we need as the demand for our services keep growing and have come to the number of 3000. We need 3000 Paw Members (individual donors) donating R100 per month to cover this deficit. We also would greatly appreciate involvement and donations for corporates or grant funding organisations. Our budget for the 2017 – 2018 financial year is 5.5 million rand.”

Volunteer Photography by Pet Photographer Deb Sulzberger

“Deb’s photos are just beautiful and it really captures what we do. Many people are too scared to come visit us due to our location in the Khayelitsha township and their fear of not being safe. Even though we encourage people to visit as it is such a lovely experience to see the life in a township, people are fearful. Deb’s pictures show the clinic in action and really helps to express what we do.”

Thanks so much Deb, for participating in this nonprofit photography program, and for documenting Mdzananda’s important work in such a stunning way!

Khayelitsha

Find out more about Deb Sulzberger’s pet photography, and read more about Mdzananda.