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Aly's Veterinary Shelter Experience in South Africa

As an avid animal enthusiast, I had spent the past seven years volunteering at various animal shelters from China to the US, yet I can confidently say the six weeks I spent at the Animal Rescue and Veterinary Shelter in South Africa has trumped the previous experiences I have obtained. The care and the love for the animals displayed at this shelter is incomparable to any other organization I have been involved with. I am  proud to have been a part of a team that truly wants to make a difference.

Volunteer in South Africa - Animal Rescue and Veterinary Shelter

As someone who’s been pursuing their childhood dream of becoming a non-profit and shelter veterinarian, this experience offered me a better understanding of how a low-cost clinic operates. Without any practical or theoretical training, I thought I was going to shadow the vets and technicians working in the clinic since I was not qualified to do anything else. At first, I was only able to observe, but after overwhelming the clinic crew with questions and displaying genuine interest, I eventually won over the hearts of the clinic crew. After the first week, the technicians started teaching me how to do the basic preparation procedure including inserting an IV catheter and breathing tube, administering antibiotic and painkiller injections, and setting up the breathing machines before sterilization operations. Of course, at first, I was popping veins left and right, sticking the breathing tube down the wrong pipe, and stabbing kidneys with my injections, but the crew patiently walked me through the correct techniques and provided useful tips and just a few weeks later I was able to perform these procedures with ease. Beyond the practical experience, I was also able to watch extraordinary procedures with detailed description and dictation of the thought process of the vet during the amputation of legs, pinning together of broken bones, and removal of eyeballs. The interest and initiative I showed was definitely key to winning their trust, and I can say without a doubt that I’ve gained more insight th

Volunteer in South Africa - Animal Rescue and Veterinary Shelter

Outside of the clinic, the kennel crew and other volunteers also impressed me with their devotion and commitment everyday. Each dog has a distinct personality, whose kennel roommates are carefully selected and experimented with as a means to pair the most compatible dogs with each other. Each dog has a specially customized diet, with various kinds of nutritional supplements tailored to fit their needs. Kennel crew also conduct extensive follow-ups on adoptions to make sure the dogs end up in a loving home they deserve. Selfless volunteers dedicate three hours every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday to walk each dog on their designated days. The walks promote socializing and increase their chances of getting adopted. Puppy-training Tuesdays are also open to all volunteers who are interested in teaching young puppies manners and also get coddled with the unconditional love of the cutest and purest animals. Long-term volunteers like myself are recruited to help with physical therapy of disabled dogs, and the amount of progress I have witnessed has made me extremely happy.  Each visit to the physical therapist was marked with improvement and excitement for full recovery. Personally, it was amazing to go from day 1 where I didn’t know any names or personalities of the dogs, to day 30 where I knew every name and associated personality.

Volunteer in South Africa - Animal Rescue and Veterinary Shelter

At the end of the day, the most amazing thing about the shelter were the devout individuals who have been involved with the organization for years. Some of the staff members and volunteers had been there since the establishment in 1999, who always, without fail, make appearances in their various promotional videos and fundraising events throughout the 18 years of operations. During my last week everyone kept asking me when I was coming back, and without a doubt, I will definitely be coming back to visit this amazing organization, whose people and animals deserve the very best.