At the TEARS Animal Rescue centre in Cape Town, every morning starts with a symphony of excitement. First comes the percussion.
Paws pound against metal mesh to form the beat. Next, a choir of howls. Pit bulls, tiny lap dogs, and pavement specials all bay in varied intonations, sounding the arrival of potential forever families.
But when COVID-19 spread across South Africa, the shelter sank into a deafening silence. Fearing the dogs would spend weeks without human contact, TEARS marketing coordinator Luke Kruyt and his team hatched a plan to keep tails wagging.
Canines have been our closest companions for over a millennia. Bolstering our immune system with slobbery kisses or reducing stress levels with a single boop, the benefits of this friendship are endless.
Yet TEARS and shelters like it are often overflowing with animals who’ve never had the chance to brighten someone’s life.
After a national lockdown was implemented, the centre’s volunteers were compelled to social distance, forcing them to evacuate the kennels. Finding temporary foster families for 120 dogs and puppies presented a seemingly insurmountable feat for the organisation.
But it was also the perfect time for people to bond with a new best friend.
TEARS launched The Great Escape campaign on social media, imploring locals to make space for the scruffy pooches.
What followed was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Phones buzzed for hours on end, and emails came streaming in as thousands of citizens offered their support and care.
Within three days, every animal found a place of refuge and the shelter was completely empty.
“Knowing that our rescues are safe allows us to focus on helping animals in vulnerable communities during these times of uncertainty,” Kruyt says.
The heartwarming response from residents has had a lasting impression on these creatures’ lives. Snuggling up to their humans, these dogs finally know the comfort of a loving home.