In addition to animal rescue, Adopt-a-Pet has acknowledged the well researched link between cruelty to animals by children and their later development when they reach adulthood into hardened criminals such as child abusers, rapists, abusers and murderers of the vulnerable such as women, the elderly and the handicapped. In March 2011, Adopt-a-Pet was invited by NICRO (The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders) to enter into a joint 3 Year Working Agreement, aimed at Grade 9 learners at the Windermere High School in Factreton, an area with a high incidence of gangster activity. NICRO participated with the learners during the last period at school on a Friday and thereafter Adopt-a-Pet took the learners to venues for “hands-on” interactive experiences where they were addressed by experts on a wide variety of issues. The aim was to promote positive qualities such as compassion, empathy and respect for all life towards both non-human species as well as towards their fellow human beings. To our astonishment the programme succeeded beyond our expectations. We took on a second community in July 2011 when we heard about a toddler who was allegedly killed by dogs. Residents retaliated by killing dogs at random. Later it was said that the child was the alleged victim of a muti killing. The conventional animal organisations confiscated and put down about 230 dogs. We moved in the next day and were accepted by the community after we put up a new wendy house on Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday for an elderly men suffering from TB who was living in a toilet like stucture with a leaking roof, collapsing walls, a lopsided bed with a single old blanket in the middle of winter. We still work in this area. We are currently working together with two pastors in another impoverished informal settlement called Freedom Park with children aged 12-14 where we are conducting our Humane Education programmes. We work in in two other informal settlement where we have “lay” inspectors living in the communities who have been sensitised to recognise animal suffering and who notify us of animals in trouble. No other animal organisations provide any services for animals in trouble in the five areas where we help. We also get no funding from the City of Cape Town and have to pay private vets ourselves for sterilisations and treatment of animals belonging to poor people.
Nelson Mandela has inspired us and we remember him with respect every year on his birthday. Without doubt, interaction with animals, nature, sport and music, plus many other positive interventions, have been the catalysts in changing negative behaviour and in promoting a gentler society.