Looking for a best friend?

Benjamin gets some exercise.
Madri Hare-Bowers,
Labrador Rescue SA
A chance encounter with Bolander editor (and fellow dog-lover) Carolyn Frost, at Teva Vet in Somerset West last week, led to me writing this letter, in the hopes of drumming up some support for Labrador Rescue South Africa (LRSA).

We operate nationwide with area teams of dedicated volunteers. Although LRSA is a breed specific rescue, we rehome many Labrador cross breeds, as well as their other breed family companions, which includes the odd cat!

LRSA works in close cooperation with other rescue organisations as well as SA Guide Dogs, and many of our rescue dogs have been trained and work as qualified service dogs. Our Facebook page, Labrador Rescue South Africa, has over 30 000 followers, and an interactive website (www.labrescue.org.za), where you can see which dogs are looking for homes, fill in an adoption form, and even surrender your dog via the website.

All queries are followed up by our dedicated team of volunteers who try to match dogs to the right home. On average, LRSA rehomes between 5 to 10 dogs each week, or over 500 a year.

This number is increasing as more dogs are looking for homes due to changes in family circumstances such as divorce, job loss, illness, retirement, emigration or economic restraints forcing people to down scale.

Often people do not research the breed before getting a puppy, and then find they cannot cope with an untrained, boisterous, landscaping, chewing demolition machine.

People get a cute little Lab puppy “like in the toilet paper advert”, and then see the stunning dog leading and assisting a visually impaired person, and think that this miraculously happens.

Also, Labradors are known to be fantastic family dogs and are great with children.

So they are often the first choice for a young family, who don’t necessarily have the time or experience to train what is essentially, a working breed.

Labradors need training, lots of it. They are very intelligent dogs and very high energy, so if that energy is not channelled… big problems.

Very often we advise a young family not to get a puppy, but rather an older dog who is used to children and who has learnt how to behave around children so to minimise the knocking over of toddlers, snatching of food from little hands and chewing all toys left within reach.

We seldom get purebred puppies at LabRescue, but we do often get Lab X pups and young dogs. It goes without saying that we have a strict set of rules for selecting homes for puppies.

An adoption fee of R1 000 adoption goes towards the costs of sterilisation, vaccinations and other costs incurred. It is more for puppies, as there are generally more vet costs with young dogs.

All our dogs are vet checked, vaccinated, sterilised and microchipped before going to their new homes, if this has not already been done. 

A number of vets countrywide support us with special rescue rates, but we are battling financially, and often donations from present and new owners are not enough to cover these costs.

LRSA does not have its own kennels, and has to rely on a few special kennels that give us reduced rates when they can, but even so, kennelling is expensive but necessary when we have to find a safe space for dogs that cannot stay in their homes until rehomed.

Some of these dogs have been abandoned, neglected or need some rehabilitation before finding a new home. 

We have a number of qualified behaviourists who work at the kennels, and who offer special rates to help dogs become more re-homeable or those with problems settling into their new families.

During the lockdown period, it was really difficult to rehome dogs and our kennel bills where really high, as we were still taking in dogs who had nowhere to go.

Thankfully, we are now able to rehome dogs, and are trying to get as many dogs as possible settled in their new homes.

We are completely reliant on donations and none of our volunteers receives any compensation for their time or expenses. 

All money donated is used to care for our rescue dogs. LRSA desperately needs more special people to offer foster homes or help with home checks, admin or transport.

If you unable to help with your time, consider a tax-exempt donation, preferably a monthly debit order basis, to help us have a predictable fund base to cover costs and plan ahead, rather than operating on a “wing and prayer”.

Our future is in jeopardy, as our monthly expenses often exceed our income, so we appeal to all our supporters to help us save as many dogs as we can. Call 073 898 9555 or madrihb@gmail.com