Animal welfare warrior

Julia Evans

Merwyn Cole, of behalf of the Rotary Club of Somerset West

The speaker at last week’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Somerset West was Julia Evans, the hard-working manager of the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) shelter in Gordon’s Bay.

Julia is a passionate woman and is also passionate about her work. Hers is a no-nonsense approach to the care of animals.

If they cannot be rehomed (and sadly 50 percent of the almost 4 000 lost, unwanted, abused or mistreated pets who come into their care in a year, are not given a new start), then she is the one who must order their euthanasia (with the guidance in making those calls with the assistance of staff and volunteers).

As she spoke about this her eyes filled with tears and they ran down her cheeks, as if each tear was the life of another unwanted animal sacrificed to the cruelty of those who look upon animals as a commodity, not a lifelong companion.

Julia started as a volunteer in Stellenbosch in 1997 and grew from there. Some years later she was offered a post in Gordon’s Bay, and needing new goals, accepted. Her day does not end when she goes home, as she carries her work with her wherever she goes.

She is not only responsible for the animals at the welfare, but also for the staff, and helping to find the finances.

She says the welfare runs a deficit every month of about
R40 000. Debit orders are desperately needed.

When misguided people question her motives about not being pro-life (as in no-kill), they have to answer her about what pro-life means.

She says all welfare should be pro-life. Some practice euthanasia because their eyes are open, others choose to practice no-kill (and that is their right).

She asks where she is going to put, care for and feed, all the animals that are brought in, as the 98 kennels and 20 cattery ken ardis”.

Those who turn animals away when they are full, refer them to SPCA’s and other facilities like the one she runs.

In turn, the staff take on the emotional aspect of dealing with the numbers that are increasing by the day by taking in animals from areas way beyond the Helderberg.

Caged animals are not happy animals, and she explained that when some show major signs of distress then they have to be put to sleep as much for their own benefit as for space reasons.

Although the majority of their animals are cats and dogs, she also has had reptiles, arachnids, avian life, sea life, livestock, equine and so on pass through their care.

The non-domestic, however, is passed on to those rescues who know how to care for them properly.

Although she has been involved with animals for 20 years, each day is another filled with pain and emotion as she has to make decisions that affect the lives of those in her charge.

Although Julia has a committee to help her make such choices and who have always supported her, in the end she is the one responsible for the calls made, and this tough looking and hard talking woman has to make decisions that reveal her as a Cutie Pie: brittle on the outside with a soft and melting centre in the inside.

The AWS Helderberg always needs donations of food, bedding and money.

If you can help, please contact AWS either at their Somerset West shop and offices (Moira) at 42 Reitz Street, Somerset West, at 021 852 2268, or

The kennels are located at 14 Mansfield Crescent Gordon’s Bay 021 856 0597, and a place she is very proud to be associated with.

She thanks the committee, staff, volunteers and several other rescues organisations for their continued support of what truly is her own belief.

In particular she thanks the Cape Animal Welfare Forum for the knowledge she has gained and for their support in times of crisis.