Starfish Resolve: One distressed animal at a time (or a few more!) – By Yolanda Wessels

By Yolanda Wessels

Sadly, our country struggles with an alarming number of unwanted pets. Although the Animal Welfare Protection Non-profit organisations operate on a national basis, they struggle to keep up with the millions of unwanted pets, uneducated people, and increasing lack of funding as none of them is funded by the government and are dependent on the generosity of the public.

Kind-hearted people like Elmae van As, an angel in the picturesque Overberg town of Bredasdorp, take in hundreds of unwanted pets under her wing. The Animal Anti-Cruelty League and Luv4pets in this southern region reach out to her to take these pets into her care. She takes care of them, treats them, and rehomes them. When adopting from her she provides vaccinations and rabies vaccine at affordable rates and provides a small bag of food. They get a 25% discount at the animal clinic and pets must be neutered before six months.

Elmae says, “I arrange food runs, arrange sterilisation projects, and educate the rural community on animal care. Some animals are hurt, unwanted or people simply don’t care for them. People sometimes move and cannot take their pets with them, so I take them in and try to find new forever homes.” This is a very expensive continuous foster project also with a huge emotional impact. But she says it’s her calling and she is trying her best to make a difference. “It is heartbreaking that I cannot help every animal in need. But I try my best to make a difference in our community where animals are already in need.”

When she takes in an animal, they become her responsibility. She doesn’t receive any funding; she must plan to raise funds. She holds fundraisers, and sells succulents, etc. Anything to assist in this never-ending battle. This is also the reason why so few people want to foster. Will these animals get loving homes? “Often, I have to hand rear kittens. I take care of them, they need kitty milk and food, litter sand, deworming, vaccinations and then when they are adopted, they must be sterilised. It takes an emotional toll, and you often want to throw in the towel.

But I continue. I cannot rescue and save all animals, but I can make a difference.