Local Heroes 2023: Louise Impey’s Spay a Stray making a difference
No animal deserves to live uncared for, and in East London’s underprivileged areas, no cat or dog does if animal advocate Louise Impey can help it.
Impey, a Sunnyridge resident whose dedication to animal welfare has earned her a soft spot in the hearts of many East Londoners, is one of the 2023 Local Heroes Awards nominees.
When not focusing on her day job as a storage supervisor for a local business in Arcadia, Impey uses most of her free time, including her lunch hours, to run her Spay a Stray charity focusing on female cats and dogs in underprivileged East London communities, while educating people about animal care.
Impey started Spay a Stray in 2018 to help curb animal starvation, abuse, the spread of disease and, ultimately, euthanisation.
Whenever the opportunity arises, whether it be before work, during her lunch hour, after work or on weekends, Impey carries her medicine box and heads wherever her services are needed.
“I’ve always loved animals. I started out by fundraising for another organisation and I saw such a need for getting more animals sterilised so there is less [traffic] coming into the welfare system.
“People have no idea how big the problem is in the animal welfare system.
“Unfortunately, there are no options available [for these] animals to prevent them reproducing more puppies or kittens that end up in the welfare system and eventually get euthanised anyway because there aren’t enough homes,” Impey said.
A few months ago, Spay a Stray achieved a milestone of 1,700 sterilisations.
We are trying to make a difference but people need to be made aware of how big the problem is.
The animal lover said she would use her Local Heroes prize money to sterilise as many more cats and dogs as possible.
Impey runs the organisation with the help of a passionate volunteer.
“It’s costly. Even if we get welfare rates from vets, it’s still very expensive, but you have to start somewhere.
“In the bigger scheme of things, we’re not making much of an impact.
“We focus on sterilising female dogs and cats because of a lack of funding, time and hands,” she said.
The Spay a Stray project has reached several communities including Westbank, Summerpride, Buffalo Flats, Ducats, and Soto Village near Mooiplaas.
Impey said they often found dogs in extremely poor conditions due to a lack of education about animal welfare.
“We are trying to make a difference but people need to be made aware of how big the problem is.
“And it’s not just in townships — in every neighbourhood in East London you will find dogs that are being chained up, unvaccinated dogs or cats whose owners haven’t bothered to get sterilised,” Impey said.
She also responds to low-income earners who reach out to her seeking animal sterilisation.
She performs all basic medical treatments herself and takes animals with severe cases to the vet.
“We have no fixed funders. We get some funds through fundraising.
“At R1,000 per pup, the 1,700 sterilisations we’ve done are quite a lot,” she said.