No need to cry, kitty...there's TEARS

The barking from TEARS reverberates across the entirety of Masiphumalele daily, but what's represented by those sounds make the annoyance of constant dog yelping kinda comforting. The Emma Animal Rescue Society takes stray animals as well as domestic pets from the local communities for vaccinations, fixing, and disease treatment at a price that no one can argue with: free. Instead of putting down pups with horrifying skin diseases, they do what they can to ensure that every animal gets a chance at survival and adoption. And when they wander across a pet cat that hasn't been neutered yet, they create a positive relationship and rapport between TEARS and the owner, gaining respect and trust among people who don't often have the money to do the right thing for their beloved pets. We took a tour of the facilities to observe feral cats hanging out, sweet and healthy kitties propped on columns ready to be loved, and dogs dancing around their cages eager for chow time. One frisky barker had moves like Spiderman and bounded from the ceiling of his shared cage down to the ground, really darn excited for his Kibble. We gave treats to those that were being especially friendly and then moseyed to the wrestling puppies. There was a whole lotta cuteness going on at TEARS, and I think Chris and I could have entertained ourselves for hours playing with the animals.

The rescue squad, or mobile clinic, or whatever it was called invited us to join a ride through Masi to observe how they find the needy animals and connect with the communities. There was one man living on the very edge of the wetlands who absolutely adored his large, golden canines but couldn't feed them and treat them they way they deserved. TEARS built him a kennel out of the rain water and helped him out with dog food. The man was so grateful, he put his palms together and dipped his head in a sign of extreme and humble thanks.

When we turned a corner and saw a small cat staring at some snacking birds, we paused to laugh, and then the mobile crew took a gander to make sure she was fixed. Nay! TEARS squad members unite! One man spoke in the local language of Xhosa to tell her they could take care of everything and bring back her cat in a few days at no cost to her. One less animal out and about with procreating abilities or susceptibility to bad diseases.

In the next township of Mountain View, we came across a man who adored his massive pitbull, a canine who was quite obviously not fixed. The dog's homemade sweater was connected to the chain around his neck and had felt letters sewn on spelling "I'm so hood". It was just too perfect an ensemble. The owner reeked of booze and had an odd smear of white surrounding his mouth. He insisted that he'd never taken his dog to a fight, but he's killed 13 dogs before. And he took impeccable care to pair his fella with only the most worthy pitbull ladies, spreading the good bloodlines he called it. In this community, it's common that the men keep incredibly virile and dangerous dogs to solidify their own manly image. This was a case that would take weeks for TEARS to work, and they began by talking about dog fight victims to get on this guy's sappy side. We watched from afar at their wicked skills of coercion.

We left them to their jobs of keeping the animal peace and went for a volunteer bbq at the i-to-i house. It involved the kind of good food that puts hair on your chest: beef, sausage, potaters. The volunteers were all young, chatty, and very sweet, and their perspectives on travel, their volunteer projects, and South Africa were refreshing. It looks like more guys need to be made aware of this volunteer program, as they were scarcely represented. Fellas, South Africa + a bunch of ladies and you living under one roof...think about it.