The new Pet Pals Animal Sanctuary taking shape in the Wilsonia countryside looks more like a cheerful holiday resort than an animal shelter.
Colourful cottages complete with porches and gardens as well as a walk-in pond will greet about 200 cats and dogs when they make the move from their current lodgings in Holm Hill to their custom-designed new premises in mid-to-late September.
Pet Pals founder Sue Kriel and her helpers have been hard at work readying the once scrubby piece of land to a shady, colourful and comfortable refuge for rescues who will occupy the cottages until they are adopted.
When the Daily Dispatch visited the new site this week, Kriel, who founded the non-profit organisation six years ago, was overseeing the painting of 12 dog cottages and gratefully signing off a truckload of donated building sand courtesy of SL Contractors.
When she was told she would have to vacate her current premises which she had built up over four years in November 2015, Kriel’s appeal for help was answered by Kempston Group boss Tony Cotterell, who made 2.5ha of flat, cleared land on Marionvale Farm available to her on which to build.
With the help of volunteers, sponsors and her own staff, Kriel set about creating her new dream sanctuary which she designed in a circular layout to ensure all four-pawed residents enjoy a view of proceedings.
“I don’t want any of them to be stuck away in corners,” Kriel said.
Rather than conventional cement enclosures, she insisted on what she calls American-style cottages, which bear a resemblance to the iconic primary-coloured huts dotted along Cape Town’s St James Beach.
“I wanted this place to be bright for the dogs and also for the children who visit and get educated about rescue dogs. It will have gardens and benches and be wheelchair-friendly.”
Seven cottages are mid-build, while four extra large catteries are yet to go up. Keeping the 78 kitties in the Pet Pals style to which they have become accustomed, will be lounge suites, rugs, lofty perching ledges and outdoor hammocks for sunny siestas. In the circle’s centre will be the kennel manager’s flat, a feed room, staff room, storeroom, office and the cool-off pond.
Off to the side the sickbay is already almost complete.
Snaking behind the cottage kennels are enclosed runs for energetic pooches who will get their exercise to the sound of a burbling stream which flows through the property and supplies it with clean drinking water.
Animal-lovers have already bought into the sanctuary in many helpful ways.
The welding class at Baysville Special School is making 59 gates at a reduced fee and a businessman is donating 120 soft dog beds. Another businessman has given of his time and workforce to erect many metres of fencing.
Kriel said it was possible for businesses, schools or individuals to sponsor Wendy houses of different sizes ranging between R15000 for the smallest and R30000 for the largest, and be rewarded with a plaque on the cottage they “buy”.
She also welcomes volunteer help in the weekends.
“Some dogs have never had a bed before they come to me and so to them Pet Pals is like a 5-star hotel. The new sanctuary will be even better, but all they really want is love,” she said.