Moving wagging tails and whiskers

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By Barbara Hollands

Moving house is a known stressor, but transferring an animal shelter of 70 nervy cats and 120 boisterous dogs on a sweltering day takes nerves of steel and an unflappable disposition.

SETTLING IN: Pet Pals founder Sue Kriel welcomes Cleo to her new quarters at the sanctuary’s new Wilsonia home yesterday. By tomorrow, the relocation of about 190 animals should be complete Picture: ALAN EASON

Pet Pals founder Sue Kriel displayed the necessary grit as she oversaw the relocation of her animal shelter from Holm Hill to its new quarters in Wilsonia yesterday, a move which she hopes to complete by the end of tomorrow.

The first group of eight tail-wagging but confused dogs was loaded onto a six-foot trailer secured with mesh and wrapped in shadecloth at 8am yesterday by a volunteer who ensured the dogs were moved in the packs they are accustomed to.

Among the volunteers who helped catch, leash and transport animals to the new Pet Pals sanctuary with its gaily painted wendy houses and comfortably furnished catteries, was animal healer Leo le Roux.

“I send them healing energy and love and assure them everything will be fine,” she said.

In the old cattery, now stripped of furnishings which were relocated to their new wendy house catteries, Dr Alex Halsey and veterinary nurse Kim Houghton of Wild Coast Vet were hard at work testing cats for feline leukaemia and Aids.

A team of eight young volunteers from the US and Europe, who are on the Safari 4 U pre-vet student programme, tried their best to avoid flying claws and gnashing teeth while they assisted with the kitty health checks before loading cats into baskets for transportation.

As meowing cats were freed one by one into their plush new “lounges”, complete with floor rugs, armchairs, cushions and coffee tables, they slowly relaxed into their new surroundings.

In one cattery Susan – an older mixed-breed dog who had to be transported in the front seat of a bakkie – formed a one-dog welcoming committee for kitty arrivals. Susan and her two chihuahua pals, Senor and Senorita, prefer to live with the cats, explained Kriel.

The move to a new sanctuary became necessary when Pet Pals was informed it would have to vacate its current premises.

Kempston Group boss Tony Cotterell came to the rescue and made 2.5ha of flat, cleared land on Marionvale Farm available on which to build the 36 cheerful cottages, a kennel manager flat, storeroom, sick bay and office. Funded by the public and local business, some of whom donated their building skills and materials, construction began in May and is nearing completion.

“You’ve got such a lovely home now,” said Kriel to a panting Gogo and Scruffy as they settled on their shady new cottage verandah.

Please call Kriel on 082-850-8935 if you can help transport animals today or tomorrow.

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